Category Archives: Law

A moral politics of blame

Modern municipal waste disposal is not limited to removal of garbage, but often involves a strategic churning out of unwanted people, and extreme events such as dump fires reflect the social precariousness of marginalised communities like those of waste-pickers.

No insides on the outsides

“The main goal and mission of a content moderator is to clean up the dirt.” — unnamed content moderator in The Cleaners (00:06:20). All systems must rid themselves of things. If they don’t discard, those systems face existential threats to their continuation. This is a fundamental insight of anthropologist Mary Douglas’s work and a core […]
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Research challenges the view that environmental regulators are anti-business

Interactions between regulators and the private sector at the federal and state levels typically are collegial, and that both sides work to build and maintain cooperative partnerships.


Governmentality and environmentality can articulate how and why waste becomes a medium through which to understand power and changing human-waste interactions

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.

Toxic Politics: A Collection of Research Projects

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.

“The Dregs of the Library”: Trashing the Occupy Wall Street Library

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?

Special Issue on International Chemicals Regulation Following the Minamata Convention

Legal frameworks are one main way through which chemicals are defined: terms of harm, responsibility, and circulation, some of the defining features of pollution, are debated, agreed upon, and codified in legal forums. The Minamanta Convention on Mercury is the first environmental agreement in a decade to set these terms across nations.

Twenty-first century nuisance law and the continued entanglement of race, gender, property, and violence

“It has generally been held that an in most instances rightly held that the degree of dilution necessary is merely that which will prevent a nuisance, having reference primarily to unsightly floating matter and bad odors. For most rivers and many of the smaller streams of the country, this requirement as to the cleanness of […]
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New York City settles with Occupy Wall Street for unconstitutional trashing

By Max Liboiron. Nearly a year ago, I posted about a lawsuit brought against the City of New York by the People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street for trashing thousands of books during the eviction of Zuccoti Park. The story resonated with a lot of people because the destruction of books is seen as a special type of waste […]
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