Weatherhead Resident Scholar
Affiliation at time of award:
Department of Anthropology
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Nothing Ever Perishes: Waste, Work, and Transformation in an Expanding European Union
Based on forty months of fieldwork in Bulgaria conducted on city streets, in landfills, Roma neighborhoods, executive offices, and at the Ministry of the Environment, this project examines the juncture of material waste management and social discrimination, specifically highlighting the intersection between physical garbage and the Roma minority, often considered “social trash” by non-Romani people throughout Europe. This research studies phases of trash objects and the related life stages of the people dealing with them in order to analyze the following: 1) how notions of European progress take shape in relation to the Roma and 2) how EU policy reform affects consumption and discard patterns and the effect it has on segments of the population, and 3) how looking at trash—as object and metaphor—can help us understand how social hierarchy is normalized.
Photo by William Geoghegan