School of Social and Political Science

Waste Worlds: Inhabiting Kampala's Infrastructures of Disposability

Seminar Series
01 April 2022
15:15 - 17:00


Violet Laidlaw Room (Chrystal MacMillan Building) & Zoom


Uganda's capital, Kampala, is undergoing dramatic urban transformations as its new technocratic government seeks to clean and green the city. Waste Worlds tracks the dynamics of development and disposability unfolding amid struggles over who and what belong in the new Kampala. Garbage materializes these struggles. In the densely inhabited social infrastructures in and around the city's waste streams, people, places, and things become disposable but conditions of disposability are also challenged and undone. Drawing on years of ethnographic research, Jacob Doherty illustrates how waste makes worlds, offering the key intervention that disposability is best understood not existentially, as a condition of social exclusion, but infrastructurally, as a form of injurious social inclusion.

About the author: Jacob Doherty is a lecturer in anthropology of development at the University of Edinburgh specializing in urban and environmental anthropology. His research grapples with how African cities are responding to the entwined issues of economic inequality and environmental justice. He has conducted ethnographic research in Uganda, the Ivory Coast, and the United States, examining the everyday infrastructures through which urban residents construct and provision their lives, focusing particularly on waste and mobility.

The book is available through University of California Press



Dr. Jacob Doherty, University of Edinburgh

Professor Catherine Dolan, SOAS

Dr. Wangui Kimari, the University of Cape Town 

Professor Jamie Cross, University of Edinburgh

Chair: Dr. Jiazhi Fengjiang, University of Edinburgh  

This event will take place in a hybrid format with the option of joining either in person (Violet Laidlaw Room, CMB) or online (please register via Eventbrite) from 3:15pm to 5pm (GMT) on 1 April 2022. 

Seminar convenors: Jiazhi Fengjiang and Resto Cruz

Key speakers

  • Jacob Doherty (University of Edinburgh)