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Toxic Epistemics and E-Waste Justice Struggle in Ghana

Lecture by Peter C. Little (Rhode Island College)

This lecture explores the ongoing and transformative nexus of toxic e-waste labor, environmental health science, and environmental justice in neoliberal Ghana. Global health studies of workers engaged in e-waste recycling and scrap metal extraction have focused on the Global South in general, and Ghana in particular, to expand environmental health science and knowledge, build international networks of expertise, and generate evidence-based knowledge to improve public health outcomes or inform waste management policy. Amidst these developments, certain toxic epistemics go unchecked. Many of these technoscience projects and partnerships often overlook or downplay the politics of knowledge extraction or simply reduce e-waste workers to bodies that bioaccumulate harmful levels of toxic substances (e.g., lead, copper, cadmium). The question is, what does this e-waste technoscience silence in the process? This lecture explores these toxic epistemics and how they intersect with critical environmental justice theory and action.

Peter Little is Associate Professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island (USA). He is author of Toxic Town: IBM, Pollution, and Industrial Risks (NYU Press, 2014) and Burning Matters: Life, Labor, and E-Waste Pyropolitics in Ghana (Oxford, 2022). His current book project is entitled Platforms, Pathologies, and Plunder: Critical Zones of Technopower and Global Political Ecology (Lexington Books). He is also the president-elect of the Northeastern Anthropological Association.

The event will be held in a hybrid format. Please register here to participate via Zoom. For participation on site at ZMO, no registration is required.

This event is part of the lecture series:
ZMO Colloquium Winter Semester 2022/2023
Environmental (Un)Knowing Exploring the nexus of epistemic and environmental injustice