CFP: Living and Dying with “Waste Infrastructure”: Affect and Practicalities (AAA)


Shangri-La City Municipal Solid Waste Landfill, direction: this way 1.6km, photo by Bo Wang.


Conference:American Anthropological Association 2016, Minneapolis, MN, November 16-20.
Panel title: Living and dying with “Waste Infrastructure”: Affect and Practicalities
Anthropological works with waste management, waste incineration, waste-to-energy plants, and landfills among others show the potential of relating these forms of “waste infrastructure” with affect and practicalities. In the broader literature on infrastructure, we learn that not only roads shut and connect, railways bypass, residential buildings attack, but also that they leak, break down, fall apart, and decay. To make sense of the affect and practicalities in the waste infrastructure is to take the task of “bringing experience nearer to reality by generating concepts from life” (Das et al 2014, 6). For instance, the concepts of waste infrastructure and affect, rooted in recent environmentalism and affect, may assist the understanding of the practicalities in the everyday life of those who live with waste infrastructure.
This panel takes seriously the way of living or dying near the waste infrastructure, showing explicitly ethnographic inquiries of despair, anxiety, hope, and sense of purity, safety, and security through looking at the daily pragmatics. It focuses on how these kinds of affect are predicated upon the pragmatic needs in the daily routines of living with waste infrastructure. By prioritizing the pragmatics and shedding light on them, this panel considers the theoretical potential to be embedded in them rather than derived from abstraction. Ultimately, the question is about living and dying with waste infrastructure in the world.
Hence, it asks:                         
– What kinds of affect are taken into consideration for the intervention of waste infrastructure?
– Whose affect is credited and accounted when accidents happen? How?
– What kinds of affect are created, destroyed, or reified through daily engagements with waste infrastructure?
– How is the evidence constructed to reflect the scientific merits and the absence of negative affect of waste infrastructure? How is the evidence then contested in the daily experiences?
waste infrastructure, affect, practicality, life
Organizer: Bo Wang (UW-Madison)
Please send paper abstract by April 5th to