On July 1 New York City banned disposable Styrofoam containers. First they were sued over the decision, and last week the ban was overturned. What is the big deal? The answer, not surprisingly, is profit. Industry saves money through the creation of disposables. And disposables are only environmentally acceptable if they are recycled. Except they aren’t.
Ecological science, invited as queer tactic, can transfigure political ecology’s relations to and interchanges within the Anthropocene. Political ecology shares with queer theory an interest in the boundaries around ‘nature’; both sets of discourses challenge the naturalness of such categories as heterosexuality, hierarchy, and wilderness.
Landfills partake of multiple temporal scales, making them difficult to regulate and run. Taking into account multiple timescapes, or polychronicity, reveals the constitutive role of non-human beings and forces in waste management generally. As a result, political challenges to landfills are limited if they fail to recognize landfill landscapes as a polychronic and multi-species affair.
The leveraging of the temporal lag between the developed and the developing world by these local street vendors enables them to generate additional value from the discarded. Second-hand goods becomes the means to access the consumer society that is characteristic of global cities.
Drawing from long-term ethnographic research on a 25-year-old medical aid program linking the U.S. and Madagascar, I use this brief essay to trace how Malagasy and American participants engender different orientations to time through their work with discards, as they transform both discards’ value and the social relations surrounding them.
Food Not Bombs and endeavors like it, I would argue, also create the conditions to queer categories of embodiment like race, class, and sex and interrogate their privileged incorporation by prevailing markets, publics, and institutions, cultivating emergent spaces of embodiment, contact, and collaboration across difference.
As the excesses, effluents, and excreta of larger social spheres are discarded, discounted, and possibly denigrated, what happens at those margins where they recirculate? What fissures in prevailing circulatory structures might we uncover, and how do people appropriate the myriad of social and material utility that persists therein? We explore the ways in which the materialities of waste, rubbish, refuse, debris, castoffs, and pollution enable new forms of sociality marked by generative practices of survival, adaptation, and critique.
“When recycling is framed as the solution to waste problems, as it so often is in the case of e-waste, both the problem and the solution are mismatched. Recycling post-consumer commodities will do nothing to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions (or any other wastes) arising during manufacturing, long before we purchase that which we will later throwaway or recycle.” Instead, we need to look at slowing production if we want to make an impact on electronic waste.
The global economy produces pervasive contaminants, harmful pollutants, damaging particles, and poisonous atmospheres, which are inescapably part of everyday life, though the harms and benefits are unevenly distributed. In the face of these conditions and challenges, people have been creating new forms of politics. The following collection of abstracts highlights research projects on toxic politics, providing a snapshot of the state of the field from around the world.
When our library at Occupy Wall Street was destroyed, we used our beloved books tactically, as evidence, and then used the trauma of destruction to make a case for the illegitimacy of the violence committed when the library was destroyed. How do we voice and give and hear testimony when things we care for that are discarded?