Drawing your incinerator: suitability of graphic anthropology for researching municipal solid waste infrastructure in the United Kingdom

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Abstract

Societies in the Global North typically neglect, fear, or deny the existence of waste. They seek to marginalise waste management infrastructure geographically and cognitively. New research methods are needed to study, visualise, expose and debate, where our waste goes and what happens to it. This paper aims to position waste treatment facilities as urban typologies, workplaces, and locations of cultural significance, rather than merely as logistical non-places. Methodologically, the research uses graphic anthropology, which involves documenting industrial facilities through annotated sketches and diagrams. The approach has been previously employed in the examination of urban public spaces, private homes, psychiatric hospitals, and prisons. The suitability of graphic anthropology for research on waste treatment facilities will be evaluated. The study specifically focuses on energy-from-waste facilities in Manchester and Middlesbrough, United Kingdom, and includes findings from interviews with staff and stakeholders. Findings contribute to the fields of waste management, architecture, and Science and Technology Studies by providing methodological innovation and highlighting the potential benefits and drawbacks of using graphic anthropology to study waste management infrastructure. Furthermore, the findings contribute to the discussion about the design flaws impacting on the durability and operational efficiency of industrial facilities, as well as the comfort and well-being of their workers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSosiologia
Place of PublicationHelsinki
PublisherThe Westermarck Society
Pages139
Number of pages1
Volume2
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • sociology
  • waste
  • sketches
  • graphic anthropology
  • energy-from-waste

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