Degraded Objects, Disposable People: On Garbage, Social Inequality, Consumption and Citizenship among Urban Women in Southeastern Brazil

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2010
End date: 31/12/2012
Funding: 2256000 SEK


This anthropological study examines the entanglement of consumption, citizenship and the production and management of garbage by asking the question: how do urban Brazilian women, coming from different socio-economic backgrounds deal with the garbage that inevitably permeate their lives? The project has two major aims: 1)It examines socio-cultural processes of production of garbage and of the abject as they take place within middle-class households in interactions between female employers and housekeepers: what kinds of mechanisms enable the inscription of moral, economic, and affective value onto certain goods, practices and people? What is garbage and for whom? How is social (in)equality enacted in the domestic sphere, in negotiations around garbage and cleanliness, the valuable and the worthless? 2) It looks at the way female garbage-scavengers are organizing themselves in movements and associations. How is the tension between policies of exclusion and struggles for participation manifested through garbage management? Ethnographic material will be gathered during one year of fieldwork in the city of Belo Horizonte, southeastern Brazil. In order to understand how Brazil, a rapidly industrializing country with a relatively recent transition to democracy and market economy can develop in sustainable ways, it is necessary to scavenge in the piles of accumulated garbage at the crossroads between intensified consumption and struggles for citizenship.

Last updated on 2017-31-03 at 12:58