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Jacob DOHERTY

Wolf Humanities Center | University of Pennsylvania
Presentation: "Filthy Flourishing: Para-Sites, Animal Infrastructure and the Waste Frontier in Kampala"

I am a socio-cultural anthropologist interested the politics of belonging and exclusion, infrastructural violence, and the materialities and temporalities of urban environments and in contemporary cities. Currently, I am working on a book entitled Waste Worlds: Kampala’s Infrastructures of Cleanliness and Disposability based on ethnographic research in and around Kampala, Uganda's diverse waste streams. Selected as a  2016 finalist for the University of California Press's new series Atelier: Ethnographic Inquiry in the Twenty-First CenturyWaste Worlds details how disposability is produced in the name of a clean city and how that are cast as disposable are, nonetheless, lived. I am currently an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania Forum on Afterlives.

I employ the concept of disposability to identify the discursive and embodied economies through which people, places, and things are constituted as waste and made subject to cleansing. My research asks how environmental ideas and practices revolving around garbage consolidate and disrupt changing patterns of economic differentiation in a city that has become more highly unequal during two decades of growth. I see environmentalisms and their attendant infrastructural projects as a major force remaking cities around the world by transforming the parameters of belonging, visions of urban futurity, and natural-cultural relations. As such, critical attention to urban environmental politics will remain centrally important for understanding urban justice and the possibilities for social change.

I received my PhD in anthropology from Stanford University (2016) for my dissertation "Infrastructures of Disposability: Waste, Responsibility and the Politics of a Clean Kampala," as well as an MA in anthropology from the New School for Social Research (2009) and a BA in globalization studies from the University of Mary Washington (2006).