Garbage management is a ubiquitous urban issue. It is both an indicator of economic productivity and a vexing challenge in cities experiencing population growth. In the context of increasing garbage and the gradual rollout of neoliberal reforms, city governments have turned to private corporations for waste management. Privatization is restructuring labor regimes in India’s waste sector. Inter-state migrant workers–displaced due to a combination of slow onset climate events in rural agrarian regions and a lack of state support–are increasingly being recruited for waste work by private waste management corporations. This talk examines the multiple, intersecting environmental injustices that migrant workers face to answer the question: How can urban waste management be environmentally just under climate change? The arguments and policy implications are based on an analysis of ethnographic data collected from the municipal waste sector of Tiruppur, a city in Tamil Nadu state in southern India.
About the Speaker
Nidhi Subramanyam is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. Her research develops and uses a range of socio-spatial frameworks and methods to analyze and propose planning approaches that (i) enhance water security, (ii) reduce disaster risk and increase adaptive capacities, and (iii) advance economic and environmental justice for socially marginalized communities in rapidly urbanizing places facing climate change and other stresses. She also investigates questions on urban governance and rural-urban transitions in cities of the global South. At their core, all her projects interrogate how planning processes reflect and reinforce the status quo in moments of transition and how different social groups contest inequalities and transform planning at such moments to create just and sustainable futures.