Using the cable television show Hoarders as its primary case study, this essay offers a theory of "material deviance" that fuses a primary interest of material culture studies—the social status of objects—with a central concern of queer studies—the roles that deviance and normalization play in social management. Placing these two disciplines together enables us to interrogate supposedly abnormal uses of material cultures, uses that are seen as abnormal not only in terms of their sexual object choice. This disciplinary conjunction allows us to scrutinize how object pathology and aberrant object conduct such as hoarding can upset normative social boundaries.
The argument consequently teases out aspects of non-normativity present in material culture studies and aspects of material dissidence featured in queer studies. It charts a provisional theory for non-normative material relations to consider how materiality queers individuals beyond sexual identity, and it simultaneously tracks suspect and pleasurable queer object relations inherent in contemporary material practices such as extreme accumulation.