Combining political ecology, resource geography, and environmental justice approaches, this panel on “waste regime” seeks to understand the economic, political, and material dynamics through which waste is produced, conceptualized, and politicized (Gille 2007, 9). Grounded by concrete ethnographic research on garbage, everyday experiences of ordinary people, governmental and non-governmental actors, development projects tactics, and so on, we ask what values are embedded in these roles played by many institutions and actors who locate and position themselves differentially in the local and global processes of treating, sorting, trading, and recycling waste. We also ask how certain value prevails whereas others are undermined and further how “value regime” (Appadurai 1986) operates in different ontological, cultural, material, and political settings. Geographically and geopolitically, the panel is open to all varieties, including but not limited to Europe, Nepal, Tibet, the U.S. and transnational organizations, as well as capitalist, (post)socialist, and tribal regimes. We aim to bring forth discussions on various topics on multiple material forms of waste, i.e., food waste, plastics, biodegradables, recyclables, etc., and multiple forms of management, for example, industrial processes, waste-to-energy, state sanction, development recycle programs, and so forth. Common interests embedded in these topics, however, include the materialistic, politicized aspects and perspectives towards waste regimes. Shared method highlights the place-based approach, grounding often too-abstracted notions regarding waste with concrete lived experiences. Ultimately, we aim to reveal the intricacies and complexities of which persons, institutions, and things are intertwined, differentiated, separated and grouped in the physical spaces as well as the imagined geographies.

This panel is is organized by Bo Wang (bwang36@wisc.edu), joined by Craig Harris (harrisc@msu.edu), Ruth Lane (ruth.lane@monash.edu), and others for the American Association of Geographers conference. Please email us your paper abstract and we will reply by Oct. 12 to get in before early registration deadline.

Reference

Appadurai, Arjun. 1986. “Introduction: Commodities and the Politics of Value,” in his, ed., The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspectives. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gille, Zsuzsa. 2007. From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History the Politics of Waste in Socialist and Postsocialist Hungary. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.