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Title: Countercycling : an ethnographic study of waste, recycling, and waste-pickers in Curitiba, Brazil
Author: Calafate-Faria, Francisco
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is a sociological investigation on the recycling of urban waste. It is based on fieldwork carried out in the Brazilian city of Curitiba. The author used a combination of interviews, analyses of quantitative data, and participant observation to understand the work and modes of organisation of informal collectors of recyclables in this city. Curitiba is known in Brazil as the “first-world capital” and, in the world of urban planning, as a “model city” or an “ecological capital city”. These encomiums result in part from Curitiba’s ground-breaking recycling campaigns and systems of waste collection, sorting, and commercialisation. However, the city’s model image hides an army of urban poor and circuits of informal transactions that actually do most of the recycling work. These informal infrastructures are mostly responsible for the city’s official recycling rates, which are comparable to those of the most recycle-minded European cities. The main objective of this research project was to highlight what has been wasted in the building of these idealised images, both of the city and of municipal recycling. The work, organisation, and political struggles of waste-pickers in Curitiba provided the opportunity to carry out this project. Through their work and forms of organisation, waste-pickers (catadores) struggle for a space and for change in the urban economy. The author’s thesis is that catadores’ position in between systems of value, presents a chance to challenge dominant discourses on recycling, which waste people and resources. I introduce the notion of 'countercycling' in order to make sense of the hidden politics of urban recycling.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available