The Uses and Abuses of Compost

Food and bodies die and decompose in ways that can contribute to a cycle of regeneration through compost. Late modernity functions as a discard culture, however, and this process of life and death is often broken or interrupted. This article analyzes the reappearance of compost as a solution to waste in the language of entrepreneurs, scientists, and scholars who assert their relationship to it. In these discourses, the multiple species that perform the cycle of death and life are put to work on yet another frontier of capitalism for the purpose of profit and accumulation. Compost is fast becoming a greenwashed commodity with uses both as a new technology and as an ideology that centers the human, much as it claims to cherish the nonhuman.This analysis focuses on the technologization of compost; funeral practices and human corpse composting; and the use of composting as a metaphor in recent scholarship.

This article can be read at Comparative Literature Studies. 60.3: 2023. 485-96.

Or on my Academia page.