Waste Matters: Informal Economies and Commodity Detritus in Delhi, India

Author: Vinay Gidwani

Abstract: In the 2013 Asia Lecture, Vinay Gidwani examined through stories, images and both conceptual and empirical analysis the spatial histories and evolving political economy of waste in Delhi, India. Dr. Gidwani focused particularly on the marginalized people whose livelihoods depend on gathering, sorting, transporting and selling garbage in India’s huge informal economy, livelihoods now challenged as the municipal government contracts the recycling of waste to corporations. For Dr. Gidwani, the evolving, bumpy geography of the waste economy creates permanent border areas of primitive accumulation and both devalorized and valorized people and places, linking the impoverished garbage pickers of Delhi’s largest landfills with the city’s glitzy real-estate developments. The lecture was drawn from Dr. Gidwani’s project called Afterlives of Waste and his chapter in Ecologies of Urbanism in India, edited by Anne Rademacher and K. Sivaramakrishnan.

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Citation: Gidwani, Vinay (2014). “Waste Matters: Informal Economies and Commodity Detritus in Delhi, India”, Asia Colloquia Papers 4(2). Toronto: York Centre for Asian Research.