More Than Waste:

March 13, 2017
03:00 PM - 04:30 PM
Sedgewick C168

More Than Waste:
Participatory action research with waste pickers in the global South for a social and environmental justice agenda

Community engaged research on waste and with waste pickers in different parts of the world, has generated rich material on the vast array of socio-material practices that shape contemporary culture and society. Common lived experiences and discourses on waste of those working with waste, particularly in the global South, capture part of the materiality of waste and suggest the scope of the immaterial aspects of waste and their consequences. What is waste? Hazard, filth, manageable object, resource or commodity. In view of the challenges linked to climate and environmental change and given the contribution of society’s consumption and wider social and ecological footprints to these planetary issues, waste management has developed into a crucial topic in contemporary societies. In this talk I will introduce the complexity of waste studies and will refer to some results of participatory action research conducted over the past years with organized waste pickers in Brazil, Nicaragua, Kenya and Mongolia. These workers make a livelihood by collecting recyclable waste from various places in low, middle and high-income countries. Waste pickers are key stakeholders in resource recovery and have, in some cases, been influential in changing policies and waste governance.

Jutta Gutberlet is Professor in Human Geography at UVic. Her research is community-based and focuses on waste governance and the everyday livelihoods and community development issues of the urban poor, particularly in the global South. She works with waste pickers to develop more inclusive and sustainable practices of waste management. This research is participatory and action oriented and applies situated urban political ecology, social and ecological economy theory, to address multiple waste related issues, such as consumption, production and waste generation; poverty reduction; food security; occupational health and inclusive policy, in the local and global context.

CAPI Communications