Waste Siege: The Life of Infrastructure in Palestine

Mon Feb 03 2020 @ 5:0


Waste Siege: The Life of Infrastructure in Palestine

Join CPS for a conversation with Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins (Bard College) and Brian Boyd (Columbia University). Stamatopoulou-Robbins will discuss her new book, Waste Siege: The Life of Infrastructure in Palestine (Stanford University Press).

February 3, 12:10-1:30pm
207 Knox Hall
606 W 122nd Street
New York, NY 10027

Lunch will be served.

Waste Siege offers an analysis unusual in the study of Palestine: it depicts the environmental, infrastructural, and aesthetic context in which Palestinians are obliged to forge their lives. To speak of waste siege is to describe a series of conditions, from smelling wastes to negotiating military infrastructures, from biopolitical forms of colonial rule to experiences of governmental abandonment, from obvious targets of resistance to confusion over responsibility for the burdensome objects of daily life. Within this rubble, debris, and infrastructural fallout, West Bank Palestinians create a life under settler colonial rule.

Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins focuses on waste as an experience of everyday life that is continuous with, but not a result only of, occupation. Tracing Palestinians' own experiences of wastes over the past decade, she considers how multiple authorities governing the West Bank—including municipalities, the Palestinian Authority, international aid organizations, NGOs, and Israel—rule by waste siege, whether intentionally or not. Her work challenges both common formulations of waste as "matter out of place" and as the ontological opposite of the environment, by suggesting instead that waste siege be understood as an ecology of "matter with no place to go." Waste siege thus not only describes a stateless Palestine, but also becomes a metaphor for our besieged planet.

Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Bard College.