Undergraduate Course: Waste: Anthropologies of Pollution and Repair (SCAN10090)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||From contemporary economic and ecological wastelands of the anthropocene to cultural theories of waste and pollution, this course surveys anthropological approaches waste. Reading ethnographic case studies and social theory, It critically examines the production and designation of people, things, and places as waste, the concomitant diversity of social and institutional practices of waste management, and how these are entangled with the construction of social differences of race, class, and gender.
Waste is all around us. A product of everyday life, of economic activity, of regimes of bodily care and hygiene, waste is an inescapable aspect of contemporary culture and a central element in the constitution of cultural difference. This course examines what the world looks like from the vantage point of its waste streams and the diverse efforts to repair a polluted world. Taking up classic and contemporary anthropological approaches to waste and pollution, the course asks: Where is "away" when we throw things away? How do people, things and places become disposable? And what socio-technical imaginaries shape contemporary waste management initiatives? Under what conditions might alternatives to disposability and possibilities for socio-ecological remediation flourish?
Indicative themes include: Cultural theories of waste and pollution; Comparative studies of waste regimes; Coloniality of waste and pollution; Toxicity and embodiment; 'Throw-Away culture'; Disposability as an economic system; Circular economies; Sanitary urbanism; Waste work & informal infrastructures.
Student Learning experience
The course is taught through weekly 2-hour sessions that combine lectures and seminars. Some weeks' lecture content may be pre-recorded to make extra time in-seminar for hands-on activities & flipped classroom engagement. In this case students will be expected to view lectures before course meetings. Assessments are a Short Essay (40%) and a Long Essay (60%).
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Previous coursework in Anthropology or Sustainable Development equivalent to the prerequisite requirements.
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- engage with ongoing academic and applied debates about waste.
- understand contemporary waste landscapes and the complex ecological, economic, political, and socio-cultural issues they entail.
- examine a range of anthropological approaches to waste, pollution and toxicity, from cultural studies and post-colonial theory to political ecology and science studies.
- apply anthropological theories to analyze relevant developmental, infrastructural, design, and behavioral interventions in waste and pollution.
- demonstrate their ability to communicate clearly and effectively on environmental issues.
|- Alexander, Catherine & Joshua Reno, eds. 2012. Economies of Recycling: The Global Transformation of Materials, Values and Social Relations. Zed.|
- Ghertner, Ascher. 2015: World-Class City Making in Delhi. Rule by Aesthetics. Oxford.
- Gille, Zsuzsa & Josh Lepawsky, eds. 2021. The Routledge Handbook of Waste Studies. Routledge.
- Hoover, Elizabeth. 2017. The River is in US: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community. Minnesota.
- Liboiron, Max. 2021. Pollution is Colonialism. Duke.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Communicative Skills: writing
Evaluation and critical analysis
Applying conceptual frameworks to empirical case studies
|Course organiser||Dr Jacob Doherty
Tel: (0131 6)51 3785