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Negotiating Place and Value: Geographies of Waste and Scavenging in Buenos Aires

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Abstract:  This article focuses on debates over the place and value of waste and waste scavengers in Buenos Aires during and following the economic crisis of 2002 in order to consider how waste functions as a fundamental category for organizing social space. I argue that conceptualizations of waste as both zero value and “matter out of place” need to be combined with a recognition of the commodity potential of waste in order to better understand how waste works to constitute social structures and space. I demonstrate that while the displacement of waste and waste scavengers associated with the crisis opened a space for the transformation of established social relations, in ongoing negotiations, waste continues to be defined as that which belongs elsewhere and is of no value, reinforcing the marginalization of garbage scavengers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography and Program of Women's and Gender Studies, Ohio University, USA;

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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