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YCAR's 2013 Asia Lecture looks at value and waste in capitalist society

YCAR's 2013 Asia Lecture looks at value and waste in capitalist society

The York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) 2013 Asia Lecture will feature geography and global studies Professor Vinay Gidwani of the University of Minnesota talking about value struggles in Delhi.

The talk, Value Struggles: Waste Work and Urban Ecology in Delhi, will be on Tuesday, Oct. 8, with coffee beginning at 10:30am, followed by the lecture at 11.30am, at 519 Kaneff Tower, Keele campus. YCAR will also host a roundtable with Gidwani later in gidwanithe day for graduate students, from 3 to 5pm, at 857 Kaneff Tower.

Vinay Gidwani

Gidwani, who studies the layering of labour processes and ecologies in agrarian and urban settings, describes waste as the flip side of value, the antithesis of capitalist value. Waste is the byproduct of surplus accumulation.

“I suggest that by tracing the dialectic of value and waste[…]we gain insight into how capital always draws its economic vitality and moral sanction from programs to domesticate and eradicate waste,” says Gidwani.

Waste confounds capitalism’s attempts to discipline and contain life within the domain of utility and accumulation. Contemporary urban transformations in cities like Delhi, India, around the management of municipal solid waste, for instance, should be properly construed as the latest salvo in a long history of value struggles.

Gidwani is also an adjunct professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and is editor of Antipode, the leading journal of radical geography. He is currently involved in The Afterlives of Waste, a project that examines the spatial histories, political uses and contemporary global political economy of waste as both commodity detritus and social excess. His most recent book is Capital, Interrupted: Agrarian Development and the Politics of Work in India (University of Minnesota Press, 2008).