Call for Papers: Political Ecology, Culture, and Waste

 Association of American Geographers 2012, New York February 24-28

Organizer:  Graham Pickren *University of Georgia

Theoretical and empirical engagements with wastewa continue to have traction among geographers and other cognate researchers, and for goodessio reason, as waste cuts across many disciplinary boundaries.  Gay Hawkins writes that waste “isn’t a fixed category of things; it is an effect of classification and relations…waste [is] a social text that discloses the logic or illogic of a culture” (2006, 2).   Extending that idea further, we know that the relationship between waste and culture cannot be separated from political-economic change, power relations, and the production of difference, that these things all ‘hang together’.

The act of wasting, of producing, circulating, revaluing, and disposing of waste is fundamentally geographical, ranging from the micro level practices of household waste management to the macro-level institutional formations of the global waste trade.  In short, the study of waste allows us as researchers to engage with huge range of substantive questions.

This session hopes to bring together scholars studying waste from a variety of perspectives into a productive dialogue.  Both theoretical and empirical papers are welcome.  If there are enough papers for multiple sessions, they may be organized along these lines.  Possible interventions include, but should not be limited to:

  • the relationship between waste and value
  • waste and ethical subjectivities – ‘don’t be a litter bug’
  • consumer politics, green consumerism
  • the governance of waste, including policy analyses
  • certification of ‘ethical’ recyclers
  • neoliberalization and waste
  • issues of commodification, privatization, etc
  • the movement of waste – commodity chains, trade issues
  •   ship breaking
  •  electronic waste dumping
  •  toxic trade
  • waste and labor
  •   informal waste economies
  • waste and ecology
  • environmental justice

Submitting papers:

Interested participants should send expression of interest, questions and/ or title and abstract of 250 words or less to Graham Pickren at by September 20,2011. 

Contributors will have to register for the conference and submit their abstract the regular way (through the AAG website:, and should then send the  registration code (PIN) they receive to me. Please note that you have to submit the abstract AND also pay, and then your PIN is activated. Once everyone has done this, we register for a special session, and mention all registration codes that will be in our session.

Hawkins, G., (2006)  The Ethics of Waste:  How We Relate to Rubbish

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  1. Pingback: Geography does trash « Discard Studies

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