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Dumpstering in Suburbia: Commons and Non-Capitalist Subjectification

Authors: Jacklyn Weier*, Pennsylvania State University
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: dumpstering, commons, subjectification, ecology, non-capitalist, prefigurative politics
Session Type: Paper
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This paper seeks to demonstrate how dumpstering, as a kind of prefigurative yet micro-political urban action, constitutes ecological praxis and a potential site for subjectification. It does so by following politicized individuals from a rural commune – called ‘communards’ – who go into suburban spaces to salvage dumpstered food. This, I argue, constitutes the production of a suburban dumpster commons that intervenes food waste, a building ecological crisis caused by the neoliberal restructuring of the food system. As people who engage in agricultural self-reliance and the creation of cooperatives, communards already take-on non-capitalist subjectivities. However, their reach into sub/urban areas with non-communards further demonstrates prefigurative political action that creates ethical subjects. I use anecdotes from a conference held at a commune, and consequent media material produced from this excursion, where conference attendees were invited to join communards dumpstering. This activity could set as an example of how to cultivate non-capitalist subjectivities via ecological praxis. I will be using Gibson-Graham’s theorizing of non-capitalist subjection, as well as their affective reimagining of self-cultivation, to further understand how dumpstering encourages alternative ways of being. This paper will contribute to the ways that everyday commons resist the neoliberalization of sub/urban space, and propose possibilities for non-capitalist futures.

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