Monday workshop
Monday, October 2, 2017 - 3:30pm

337 Claudia Cohen Hall
(Please bring a photo ID with you in order to enter the building.)

Jacob Doherty, Wolfe Humanities Center

Para-Sites and Waste Frontiers: Governing Kampala's Multi-Species Infrastructure

Thousands of Marabou Storks occupy Kampala, Uganda, nesting in the city's green spaces and eating up a 4kgs of organic matter daily, mostly rotting garbage found in the city's open dumps. Weedy birds, they flourish amidst Kampala's garbage crisis. Storks are both waste infrastructure and waste themselves, rendered disposable by the same state-centric views of infrastructure that make informal waste pickers precarious, and cast out from the imaginary of a clean green urban future. Marabou Storks guide me through Kampala's ever-shifting waste frontier: the post-consumer equivalent to the extractive frontier that subtends the capitalist fantasy of endless growth. This talk presents storks as part of a multi-species infrastructure - linked ecological niches and informal economies constituting para-sites of the official waste stream - and describes how these sites become objects of municipal governance. Para-sites like Marabou Storks transect the city's established environmental and economic circuits, their movements subverting highly policed distinctions between clean elite and polluted poor patches that constitute the anthropocentric waste world. Waste with wings, Marabou Storks remake the urban waste landscape, undermining governmental efforts to stabilize the city's ultimate sinks in landfills, slums, and wetlands as they flourish in filth and defecate in the heart of greenness.