Archivo de la etiqueta: Instituciones

Discarded Ontologies

Discarded ontologies

Blanca Callén Lancaster University,

Behind the images and narratives of progress, effectiveness and innovation of electronics that make us believe in dematerialized technology without consequences (Gabrys, 2011:57), there is something dirty and ‘forgettable’ (Hird, forthcoming). That is electronic waste (e-waste).

Over the past November and December, I followed a group of informal waste pickers in Barcelona to study how they re-materialize and re-purpose discarded computers. What I found is that e-waste is not merely about dirtiness and forgettable materials. It is also about innovative everyday practices that compete to establish and negotiate different ontologies of value and functionality as waste moves across different legal regimes.

A common European Directive, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), currently regulates the Spanish system of e-waste management.  As a legal tool, the WEEE defines a new scenario where agents are more interconnected with their (contaminating) activities and responsibilities. Institutionally, the circuit of e-waste management lies on the so-called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This means that, at least theoretically, producers are responsible for the collection, treatment, evaluation, and, if applicable, elimination of waste related to their products. However, as Queiruga et al. (2012) argue, this is not what actually happens. In practice, fines and responsibilities are divorced, and the ‘polluter pays’ principle’s core is corrupted.

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Forage Tracking Project


The Forage Tracking project is mapping the tacit knowledge and spatial organization of informal recyclers.

We are using location-detecting hardware and software to investigate how Catadores, informal recyclers in Brazilian cities, find and collect material in the city. We are also developing participatory platforms that will help them to organize their activities and connect the cooperative to the citizens.

In our work with the recycling cooperative COOPAMARE, we try to increase visibility and understanding of the service they provide to the city.

See our conference paper from the 12th Participatory Design Conference in Denmark: Putting the Informal on the Map – Tools for Participatory Waste Management

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“Discarded laws: redefining e-waste Regimes in the city of Barcelona” (Mini STS Postgraduate Conference. Lancaster Uni.)

This is a link to my presentation in the last III Mini-STS Postgraduate Conference in the Lancaster University, 10th & 11th January).

“Discarded laws: redefining e-waste Regimes in the city of Barcelona” 15 min. (The last 15 minutes are the comments to my work by Martin Brigham and Rebecca Ellis).

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“Regimes & Tactics: a (g)local detour in the e-waste flow. (4S-EASST Conference. Copenhagen)

This is a extended version of my paper-presentation: “Regimes & Tactics_a glocal detour in the ewaste flow. EXTENDED” in the 4S-EASST Conference, in Copenhagen, 17th-20th of Octiber 2012.

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