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From beginnings and endings to boundaries and edges: rethinking circulation and exchange through electronic waste

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This paper discusses research on electronic waste in Canada and Bangladesh. We engage with ongoing debates in geography and the broader social sciences on the need to move beyond linearity in the analysis of commodity/value chains and global production networks. Our analysis suggests that the problem of linearity may be an artefact of theoretical and methodological presuppositions, which explains its longevity as an issue in methodological approaches and empirical research. Recent theoretical insights from actor network theory, combined with our own research on electronic waste, provide a potential solution to the problem of linearity. Our research points to the need for a focus on ‘actions’, not just ‘things’, in tracing economic activity. This signals a shift away from beginnings and endings in production network approaches to analyses that are concerned with boundaries and edges.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2011.01018.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Memorial University, St John's, Newfoundland, Canada A1B-3X9.

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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