COMPOSTING #39: Wonder

A wonder is a marvellous object. To wonder is a state of marvel. In this composting session we build on a discussion that began in “decolonizing humour” about the essay by Brandi Nalini McDougall on the act of “wondering”. To wonder implies curiosity that can trigger investigation but, as an object, “a wonder” also might act in a way that is dazzling or blinding; to live with the object might imply some kind of faith or or a state of awe, to know more about this wonder might inspire us to wonder more about what it is! Commodities, for instance, could be understood as wonders as the conditions of their production are hidden, making their status seem quite magical and marvellous to the naked eye. At the same time wondering isn’t always revealing hidden harms, it can give access to alternative ontologies—to wonder what else there is, or what remains unknown, misunderstood or unrecognised. This discussion we ask you to bring a show-and-tell object, a personal wonder, to discuss. The discussion will also revolve around reading the late Deborah Bird Rose’s “Shimmer: When All You Love is Being Trashed” and Alana Hunt’s artwork “Faith in a Pile of Stones” and her associated blog post.


WHEN: 4th September 2019 10am-11.30am (AEST, GMT + 10)

LEAD COMPOSTERS: Perdita Phillips and Jennifer Hamilton

WHAT: BYO Object Wonder for Show & Tell


Alana Hunt, “Faith in a Pile of Stones” from

Deborah Bird Rose, “Shimmer: When All You Love is Being Trashed” in Anna Tsing et. al. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017)

Optional readings

Puig de la Bellacasa, Maria. 2019. “Re-animating soils: Transforming human–soil affections through science, culture and community.”  The Sociological Review 67 (2):391-407.

Bhabha, Homi K. 1985 “Signs Taken for Wonders: Questions of Ambivalence and Authority under a Tree outside Delhi, May 1817.”  Critical Inquiry 12 (1 “Race,” Writing, and Difference): 144-165


Feature Image: Joel Toynan “Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy” from Flickr

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s