This special issue aims to present the best of ongoing interdisciplinary scholarship on historical and contemporary processes involved in the flow of secondhand objects and materials, their transformations and revaluations, and the persons, policies, and markets involved with them.
By Alex V. Barnard “Seeing all the waste exposes very clearly the priorities in our society, that making a profit is more important than feeding people, than preserving the environment, than making use of resources, than honoring peoples’ time, labor, love, and effort. What we see with waste is that once something cannot make money, it […]
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El Cambalache, a moneyless economy project in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, is screening a documentary we created!
CFP: Circles, flows and dead ends: re-calibrating socio-material relations and the rise of the ‘circular economy’ (3/11/16)
This session invites contributions that explore themes related to ideas of recalibrated material flows and their socio-political and geographical implications.
The lead researcher on a seminal work mapping the international traffic of e-waste responds to criticism of his research on material flows.
What is the circular economy, exactly? Is it capitalism with better accounting? Is it about scaling up recycling and reuse? Is it about consuming less, and producing less, or consuming and producing fundamentally differently? Does it go so far as to advocate for a degrowth or steady state economy, where the loop on production and consumption is totally closed?
The Ocean Conservatory’s Call for Mass Incineration in Asia: Disposability for Profit, Fantasies of Containment, & Colonialism
The Ocean Conservatory would like to burn 80% of the waste in coastal Asia with US-made incinerators. According to a wide range of experts and grassroots organizations from around the world, that’s a problem.
The Power Behind Disposability: Why New York City’s ban on polystyrene was vilified, sued, and reversed
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.
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.