This episode proved remarkably popular, so we’re reposting it as an NBN classic for those who missed it the first time.

The production and removal of garbage, as a key element of the daily infrastructure of urban life, is deeply embedded in social, moral, and political contexts. In her book Garbage Citizenship: Vital Infrastructures of Labor in Dakar, Senegal (Duke University Press, 2018) Dr. Rosalind Fredericks illuminates the history of state-citizen relations and economic and political restructuring in Dakar by focusing on the city’s complex history of garbage collection in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, from activist clean-up movements to NGO-led development projects to massive sanitation worker strikes. She pays particular attention to the themes of generation, gender, and religion in her analysis of the ways in which people become integrated into the infrastructural life of the city; in so doing, she invites us to expand our understanding of what constitutes infrastructure. This fascinating book will be useful not only for anthropologists, cultural geographers, and scholars of West Africa, but also for anyone interested in the emerging interdisciplinary fields of new materialism and discard studies.

Dannah Dennis is an anthropologist currently working as a Teaching Fellow at New York University Shanghai. You can find her on Twitter @dannahdennis.

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