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CANCELLED - Waste, Labor, and Informality in Urban Pakistan, by Waqas Butt

Monday, April 6, 2020 at 12:15pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

THIS PRESENTATION IS CANCELLED. WE HOPE TO RESCHEDULE FOR LATER THIS YEAR. Waste work across South Asia is structured fundamentally by caste, especially as Dalit groups have historically been dominant in this stigmatizing form of labor. While this is also true in contemporary Pakistan, a consumption-driven economy has also grown over the past several decades. During this time, markets for waste work and materials have expanded immensely while at the same time creating greater space for kabarian (junkyard owners) and bioparian (middlemen or brokers) to enter this line of trade. These figures accumulate waste materials by acquiring them from waste workers and selling them to a variety of suppliers and manufacturers. By tracing how waste materials, once discarded, are exchanged and circulated through spaces such as jhuggian (huts), junkyards, warehouses, and shops, this lecture not only examines the workings of markets for waste work and materials stretching across Pakistan but also, situates these markets within broader discussions of informality in South Asia that have resurfaced in recent years.

Waqas H. Butt is an anthropologist at University of Toronto, Scarborough campus, whose work focuses on the intersections of caste, labor, infrastructures, and waste in urban Pakistan. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Lahore and the Punjab, his current book project examines the ways in which waste workers, who are drawn predominantly from low or non-caste (Dalit) groups, have become essential components of urban life through the everyday and intimate workings of waste infrastructures. His research has been funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and the University of California, San Diego. His work has appeared in academic journals such as CITY and International Labor and Working-Class History, as well as newspapers and magazines in Pakistan.

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program, Migrations, City and Regional Planning, Anthropology


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Gloria Lemus-Chavez

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Waqas Butt

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