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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:An index of waste: humanitarian design, 'dignified living' and the politics of infrastructure in Cape Town
Authors:Redfield, PeterISNI
Robins, Steven
Year:2016
Periodical:Anthropology Southern Africa (ISSN 2332-3264)
Volume:39
Issue:2
Pages:145-162
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:sanitation
bodily wastes
social status
Link:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23323256.2016.1172942
Abstract:This article develops a framework for thinking about waste as an index that signals a relational position within contested, historically layered conceptions of human order. It follows two contrasting frameworks for thinking about sanitation infrastructure: a quest to redesign the toilet at a global level for underserved populations, and popular conceptions of rights, citizenship and dignity grounded in the materiality of infrastructure in post-apartheid South Africa. By integrating highly abstract understandings of value with intimately embodied qualities of experience, the problem of sanitation simultaneously connects and divides human populations. It unites them at a species level, only to distinguish them at a social one. From this perspective, human waste is hardly a neutral substance, defined by its chemical properties. Rather, waste actively registers relational human status and position within a political ecology of needs. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]
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