Resistant recycling and recycling (r-)existences: self-organizing collective subjectivations of waste pickers in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Davide Carbonai*, Marco Checchi, Luiz Lentz Junior

*Corresponding author for this work

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Recycling consists of a variety of everyday practices that involve a complex urban ecology of materialities, subjectivities, knowledges, organising practices, institutions, policies, communities. In this article, we look at self-organised collectives of catadores (waste pickers) in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. This research combines quantitative data from the 497 municipalities of Rio Grande do Sul with a set of interviews and ethnographic observations. The emergence of self-organized collectives of catadores shows the affirmation of creative and transformative practices that actively resist the precarious infrastructures in which they operate. This resistant attitude is displayed by their political and strategic positioning in relation to municipalities and low-level administrators, but also in relation to the social, economic and environmental inequalities that affect their lives and their communities. We propose to look at these practices of collective resistance as expansive and creative, establishing transversal alliances throughout the community. In this sense, resistance becomes an act of recycling: the transformation of urban ecologies into an ongoing and sustainable way of staying with waste. Resistant recycling transforms individual and collective existences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-825
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number4
Early online date14 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023

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