International ZOOM Workshop "The Development of Waste; the Waste of Development"

18.00-22.00 (GMT+8, Shanghai time)
5 October 2020
Center for the History of Global Development, Shanghai Univ. with Helsinki Environmental Humanities Hub

Convened by Iris Borowy, Peter Wynn Kirby, Viktor Pál

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Nothing is inherently waste. To define waste, we need to focus on human attitudes and behavior. What do we throw out? What do we save and value? The answer depends on who is counting, hence waste is a socially and culturally contingent category. The many facets and complexity of waste seem particularly stark in the broad arena of development. Consider the ruins of rural transformation initiatives, abandoned buildings, superannuated factories, rusting port facilities, and airports to nowhere. Residues from production/consumption that contaminate land, sea, and air. Communities dedicated to demanufacturing, scavenging, repair, and recommoditization. Corruption, inefficiencies, and cultural/ideological distortions in international aid organizations. These represent just a small fraction of the development of waste—or the waste of development—in the sector and beyond.

This workshop considers waste and development employing extremely broad definitions of these two terms and from the widest possible perspective in order to scrutinize and interrogate lazy, hackneyed truisms of development and the forms of waste that alternately accrete to and help generate its activities. Over a few hours of presentations and debate, we seek to enhance understanding of waste, development, and their extensive links and ramifications through an informed sociocultural, geographical, and historical comparative analysis that will position these concepts in a provocative contemporary frame of reference.

The workshop particularly invites students who are considering topics for Master theses in the general field of environmental or economic history.

Program: (All times Shanghai, GMT+8)

18.00-18.30 Iris Borowy, Shanghai University, "Waste - on the Diversity of a Growing International Research Field"

18.30-19.00 Viktor Pál, University of Helsinki, “Waste and Communism under the Cold War”

19.00-19.25 discussion for students (and speakers) in breakout rooms

19.25-19.40 presenting results of student discussions

19.40/45 BREAK

20.00-20.30 Peter Wynn Kirby, Oxford University, “Waste, Development, and the Recycling Myth”

20.30-21.00 Parker Krieg, University of Helsinki, “Waste as Trauma in US Coal Culture" 21.00-21.25 discussion for students (and speakers) in breakout rooms

21.25-21.40 presenting results of student discussions

21.40/45 Wrapping up, concluding workshop