Department of Social Anthropology
Penelope Harvey visits the department

The Material and Social Intimacies of Waste Infrastructures

Lively discussions
Harvey engages the audience.

Main content

Penelope Harvey from the University of Manchester presented her paper 'The Material and Social Intimacies of Waste Infrastructures' as part of our Department Seminar series on March 19th.

She drew on an ethnographic study from the Cusco-region of Peru to explore the specific material and social articulations that such infrastructures imply.  The ethnography explores the attempts by engineers, municipal functionaries and local communities to engage ‘waste’ both as decomposing matter and as material resource. The article traces the tensions that emerge in what might be seen as ontological experiments to produce new material and economic forms that reorient the agency of decomposing matter to positive ends. In practice such material experiments also elicit new political challenges that disturb existing modes of social accommodation and require people to explore how an ethic of environmental care might be negotiated in spaces of distributed sovereignty and decentralized environmental governance.

The presentation was attended by both students and employees at the department and resulted in a lively discussion (captured here).