10. 8. 2020

Just Spray the Dusty Surface paper at EASA 2020

Daniel presented a paper at EASA online conference in Lisboa, July 21-24, 2020. The panel entitled The Circular Economy: Between Promises of Renewal and Unequal Global Circulation was organized by Patrick O’Hare and Dagna Rams.


“Just Spray the Dusty Surface!”: Cycling of Water and Objects at the Landfills and Beyond

Daniel Sosna

Graeber (2012) argues that the concept of cycle is appealing because it addresses the tension between stability and change, which is relevant for both humans and objects. I start from a different point to explore the role of water in cyclical imaginaries. Water cycle represents one of the most critical processes that shape life on Earth. Water capacity for transformation between the states of matter, its ubiquity, and essentiality lends this cycle an aura of naturality that sparks the images of what an ideal cycle might look like. But what happens when this seemingly natural cycle occurs at the sites of waste disposal? The wastewater originates via decay and permeation through the layers of waste, it is accumulated in the underground cisterns, and gets sprayed back on the landfill’s surface to enter another round of a never-ending cycle. At the same time, the disposed objects are scavenged, reused, exchanged, and eventually disposed again. These two cycles are similar yet different.

Building on ethnographic research among the Czech landfill workers, this paper juxtaposes two different kinds of cycling. First, cycling of the wastewater that takes advantage of water properties but has to tame it. Second, an informal recovery and revaluation of the objects disposed at the landfills that get back into the households or the market. The juxtaposition enables me to examine both, how materiality affects cycling and elucidates whether and how water cycle shapes the imagination about other kinds of cycles.