The Labors, Infrastructures and Plastics of Mumbai's Waste Flows
This thesis attends to some of the diverse flows of various plastic post-discard in Mumbai, India. I examine the material and imagined geographies of plastic discard and collection; the labors through which these different kinds of plastics move; and the infrastructures, spaces and relations that shape the rhythms and subjectivities of waste discard and work. I think with these flows alongside concern for marine plastic pollution and within the context of rising seas in particular. I show, for example, how the existence of marine plastic is not just the result of intentional disposal into waterways because of infrastructural exclusions, but that the very practices of waste collection and disposal are not designed to accommodate unstable grounds and matter in assemblages that produce “flood” vulnerability. At the same time, these dynamic infrastructural ecologies of waste and water create expanding and shifting spaces for plastic collection. I also consider how efforts to circulate “low-value plastics” which often enter the sea might shift the infrastructures and organization of waste collection and work. Together, this thesis hopes to raise questions of how different relations to water and of wasting might be considered in relation and obligation to the lives that plastic and waste helps sustain and with consideration to ongoing forms of vulnerability and inequality.