Geographies of waste: dispositions, transformations, contradictions I

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8223, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Organizers: Kevin Martyn
Chairs: Kevin Martyn


Waste has long been recognized for its outsize explanatory power. Sifting through middens, landfills, dumpsters, and bins has always been revelatory of secrets and truths that might otherwise remain hidden. Moreover, as Tobler’s first law of geography reminds us, “everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things” (1970: 236). By virtue of its proximity, waste confounds modernist dreams of purification and asserts its place in space, society, and nature. In myriad ways, waste is deeply enmeshed in the social process of becoming and the economic process of improving. It presents society with an incomplete, uneasy, queasiness of becoming because it is always a bit too close and a bit too related. Many of these characteristics also make waste a particularly interesting entry point for scholarly research.

Recent scholarship in geography (as well as sociology and anthropology) has considered wastes from the perspectives of: governance; urban metabolism; commodity frontiers; spatial fixes and mobilities; slow violence and environmental justice; crises, and more (for example: Bulkeley et al. 2007; O’Brien 2008; Nixon 2011, Davies 2012, Howell 2015; Demaria & Schindler 2016, Pollans 2017; Hecht 2018). Meanwhile, wastes are contested both in terms of their relationship with/in society (as either a vital social actant or as something that is fundamentally out of place), and definitionally (as an entity with either a concrete materiality or as something that is basically unknowable). These unsettled and slippery debates over the other side of production have been provocative of incisive commentaries on the whole (for example, Gille 2010, Gregson & Crang 2010, Hird 2012, Moore 2012, Mazzolini 2013).

This session is convened to bring together interested scholars and others who are working on or exploring the emergent contradictions, transformations, dispositions, and governance dynamics of multivarious waste:
- Infrastructures
- Technologies
- Economies
- Networks/assemblages
- Flows
- Politics/Political Ecologies
- Finances

Bulkeley, H., Watson, M., & Hudson, R. (2007). Modes of Governing Municipal Waste. Environment and Planning A, 39(11), 2733-2753.

Davies, A. R. (2012). Geography and the matter of waste mobilities. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 37(2), 191-196.

Demaria, F., & Schindler, S. (2016). Contesting urban metabolism: Struggles over waste‐to‐energy in Delhi, India. Antipode, 48(2), 293-313.

Gille, Z. (2010). Actor networks, modes of production, and waste regimes: reassembling the macro-social. Environment and Planning A, 42(5), 1049-1064.

Gregson, N., & Crang, M. (2010). Materiality and waste: inorganic vitality in a networked world. Environment and Planning A. V.42., Pp.1026-1032.

Hecht, G. (2018). Interscalar Vehicles for an African Anthropocene: On Waste, Temporality, and Violence. Cultural Anthropology, 33(1), 109-141.

Hird, M. J. (2012). Knowing waste: Towards an inhuman epistemology. Social Epistemology, 26(3-4), 453-469.

Howell, J. P. (2015). ‘Modes of governing’ and solid waste management in Maui, Hawaii, USA. Environment and Planning A, 47(10), 2153-2169.

Mazzolini, E. (2013). The costs of inhuman epistemology: A response to Myra Hird and Zsuzsa Gille. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, 2(7), 31-34.

Moore, S. A. (2012). Garbage Matters: Concepts in New Geographies of Waste. Progress in Human Geography, 36(6), 780-799.

Nixon, R. (2011). Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Harvard University Press.

O'Brien, M. (2008). A crisis of Waste?: Understanding the Rubbish Society. Routledge.

Pollans, L. B. (2017). Trapped in trash:‘Modes of governing’ and barriers to transitioning to sustainable waste management. Environment and Planning A, 49(10), 2300-2323.

Tobler, W. R. (1970). A computer movie simulating urban growth in the Detroit region. Economic geography, 46(sup1), 234-240.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Ahyun Song*, Seoul National University, Understanding the Territoriality of a Locally Unwanted Facility: The Case of the Boramae Waste Transfer Station, 1986-2016 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Olalekan Olanrewaju*, University of Lagos, Nigeria, Akinlabi Oluyemi Akintuyi, University of Lagos, Peter Elias, University of Lagos, Nigeria, Emmanuel Omenayam Ashibuogwu, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, An Application Of GIS To The Assessment of Waste Infrastructure. 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Ogunleye-Adetona Comfort*, Educational Institution, . Antwi Kwabina Barima, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, Recycling of Solid Waste in Accra Metropolis: a Panacea to Solid waste Management in Ghana. 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Isnardon Manuel*, Université de Lorraine, Michel Deshaies, Lorraine University, The radioactive waste storage project in northeastern France: an opportunity to develop the territory? 20 9:00 AM
Presenter Kevin Martyn*, University of South Florida, The messy geographies of waste in a Sun Belt city 20 9:20 AM

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