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Waste Works: Vital Politics in Urban Ghana
by Brenda Chalfin
Duke University Press, 2023
Cloth: 978-1-4780-1694-6 | eISBN: 978-1-4780-2421-7 | Paper: 978-1-4780-1958-9
Library of Congress Classification HT148.G4C43 2023

In Waste Works, Brenda Chalfin examines Ghana’s planned city of Tema, theorizing about the formative role of waste infrastructure in urban politics and public life. Chalfin argues that at Tema’s midcentury founding, a prime objective of governing authorities was to cultivate self-contained citizens by means of tightly orchestrated domestic infrastructure and centralized control of bodily excrement to both develop and depoliticize the new nation. Comparing infrastructural innovations across the city, Chalfin excavates how Tema residents pursue novel approaches to urban waste and sanitation built on the ruins of the inherited order, profoundly altering the urban public sphere. Once decreed a private matter to be guaranteed by state authorities, excrement becomes a public issue, collectively managed by private persons. Pushing self-care into public space and extending domestic responsibility for public well-being and bodily outputs, popularly devised waste infrastructures are a decisive arena to make claims, build coalitions, and cultivate status. Confounding high-modernist ideals, excremental infrastructures unlock bodily waste’s diverse political potentials.

See other books on: Chalfin, Brenda | Ghana | Infrastructure (Economics) | Sanitation | Sociology, Urban
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