Dispose and Dispossess: Waste, Time, and the City

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Urban Geography Specialty Group, Economic Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 3:55 PM / 5:35 PM
Room: Council Room, Omni, West
Organizers: Key MacFarlane
Chairs: Key MacFarlane


In his last works, Allan Pred (2004) insisted that “the past is not dead.” He showed how
histories of violence return again and again to shape the contours of the present. This panel
seeks to bring Pred’s insights into the spaces of the city. It calls for a radical urban geography
that takes seriously what is no longer, what has past, what has been declared dead. It is part
of a larger project of tracing the “historical-geographic roots” of the urban (Schoenberger
and Walker 2017), uncovering the buried regions, moments, and bodies whose violent
erasure gives shape and vitality to the cosmopolitan present.

One way of tracing these roots is to look at waste. Waste has attracted much recent attention
from geographers (e.g., Moore et al. 2018; Gidwani 2016; Dillon 2014). It has provided a
grounded site from which to examine the uneven geographies of global capitalism, in which
certain objects and certain racialized bodies get tossed aside as surplus, rendered invisible,
and often left for dead. These include the toxic electronic refuse that is dumped in parts of
the Global South (Reddy 2016), female factory workers in China and Mexico who are treated
as worthless and replaceable (Wright 2006), as well as children around the world who are
regarded as waste (Katz 2018). Here, where waste piles up, the disposal of possessions
begins to blur with the dispossession of living beings.

The goal of this panel is to explore various forms of waste in relation to time and to the
urban process. What – and who – is being cast out of cities today to languish in county
dumps, prison cells, and other wastelands? In what ways does this disposal (“placing apart”)
align with larger structures of forgetting, erasure, and invisibility within urban space? This is
really an old question posed in new terms: to what extent is resiliency, progress, and life
within the cosmopolis built on and through spaces of disposal and violence – on a dispolis of
immiseration, arrested development, and death? This panel explores the ways we can (and
can’t) map spaces of disposal, and how doing so can open the urban to a radically inclusive
politics, one that is composed rather than disposed – “placed together.”


Type Details Minutes
Introduction Key MacFarlane University of California - Santa Cruz 10
Panelist Lindsey Dillon University of California - Santa Cruz 15
Panelist Carlo Inverardi-Ferri University of Fribourg 15
Panelist Cynthia Morinville University of Toronto 15
Panelist Rajyashree Reddy University of Toronto 15
Panelist Richard Walker University of California-Berkeley 15

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