Flitsch Bray Schumaker

Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Sozialanthropologie und Empirische Kulturwissenschaft, Institut für » Völkerkundemuseum » Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch » Flitsch Bray Schumaker

Current research project

Title / Titel Toilet Innovations - Social-anthropological and historical aspects of a universal need, its technologies, social impacts and trajectories of local and global modernisation
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung A small workshop entitled “The second life of things” was initiated by Lyn Schumaker (University of Manchester), Francesca Bray (University of Edinburgh)and Mareile Flitsch (University of Zurich) and held in Zurich and Kappeln am Albis from 25th to 28th of August 2015. The conveners, together with Sandy Robertson (University of Edinburgh), Joshua Grace (University of South California) and Goncalo Santos (Chinese University of Hong Kong), discussed current issues of an anthropology of everyday technologies and things, with a particular focus on toilet technologies and “shitfrastructures” – as Joshua Grace put it during the workshop with regard to the often veiled or unseen aspect of sewage systems or even the lack of sewage systems in at least some colonial territories and the long-term consequences.

The visible and the invisible sides of different kinds of toilet innovations and adaptations – be it the flushing toilet, the colonial toilet conceptualized in a hierarchical structuring for colonial rulers, citizens or colonial subjects, tell about evolving, shared, developing or utopian after or second lives of innovations in their impact for local and global everyday material culture and body concepts. A focus on toilet technologies and practices provides revealing insights into how a society manages the tensions between consumption and production, what powers it ascribes to technology, and how it conceives social order.

The research project aims at bringing together scholars from different fields and continents to formulate a historical-anthropological research field of the socio-technical impact of local and toilet innovations. Part of future planning is the conceptualising of an exhibition with publication.
Keywords / Suchbegriffe Body hygiene, concepts of cleanliness, waste disposal, toilets, sewage systems, modernity, colonialism, global change in dealing with human, everyday technology innovations, technical resilience
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch (Project Leader)
Prof. Dr. Francesca Bray (Project Leader)
Dr. Lyn Schumaker (Project Leader)
Prof. Dr. Joshua Grace
Prof. Dr. Goncalo Santos
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Universität Zürich (position pursuing an academic career)
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
Prof. Dr. Francseca Bray
University of Edinburgh
United Kingdom
FRiED (Food Research in Edinburgh) United Kingdom
Prof. Dr. Goncalo Santos
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Aug 2015 to Aug 2020