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Polarized Cityscapes : Gathering Electronic Waste and Its Malcontents in Dar es Salaam

Title data

Ntapanta, Samwel Moses:
Polarized Cityscapes : Gathering Electronic Waste and Its Malcontents in Dar es Salaam.
In: Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift. Vol. 33 (2023) Issue 3-4 . - pp. 227-243.
ISSN 1504-2898

Official URL: Volltext

Abstract in another language

Salvaging electronic waste (e-waste) is a critical sector for global south cities. Salvaging complements the gap of under-resourced waste-collecting and handling institutions. It also offers employment and steady income to many struggling under high unemployment and economic inequalities. How can we understand e-waste salvaging and its malcontents in a polarized global south city? Based on 14 months of ethnographic fieldwork among informal electronic waste recyclers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I explore e-waste salvaging and its polarization through walking in Dar es Salaam cityscapes. Walking with my walimu (teachers) during their labour, I travelled along the trail of value production; things moved, and people moved to generate value. Arguably, walking connects different parts of the city, material objects, histories, and violence, enhancing the city’s knowledge and materiality. This article focuses on collecting, the first stage of the e-waste salvaging process, which further down the value circle includes reusing, dismantling, sorting, and repurposing. I argue that e-waste collection in Dar es Salaam can be very well understood through walking, the primary labour method used by electronic waste gatherers (e-gatherers). Crucially, walking exposes the ethnographer to physical obstacles, ingenuity, valorization processes and violence of post-modern consumerism that waste collectors experience during their endeavours. Walking also enhances understanding of class polarisation, inequality in the distribution of built infrastructures, and colonial histories that persevere.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: E-waste; gathering; polarization; urbanization; Dar es Salaam
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies
Faculties > Faculty of Cultural Studies > Professor Anthropology of Africa
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 300 Social sciences
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2023 06:36
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2023 06:36