New resources to teach and learn about the political ecology of urban waste management

Original post by Henrik Ernstson of

We are proud to present NEW RESOURCES from our #SituatedUPE Collective to teach & learn about the political ecology of urban waste management. We recently finalised our Turning Livelihoods to Waste?-project (TLR) and created this page with outputs:

Photo credit: Yvette Kruger, Substance Films,

On the site you will find:

1) Academic articles on waste value & labour in Southern cities (theory+case studies)(including PhD dissertations by Kathleen Stokes and & Anesu Makina, will be uploaded)

2) Two pedagogical case studies (based ona  format from the Indian Institute of Human Settlements for #OnlineTeaching)

3) Policy brief, and… 

4)  A free online documentary film on the contested chain of extracting value out of waste in urban South Africa. The film also called “Turning Livelihoods to Rubbish?” can be accessed here: (35 min) and was made by film maker Yvette Kruger, and Nate Millington and myself (Henrik Ernstson). It is very suitable for #OnlineTeaching and normal face to face teaching, policy discussions, and advocacy.

It is certainly a good feeling at the end of a project when you have something to offer the wider community. Having said that we also recognise the often difficult situation that many of those that were part of making this research possible find themselves in today under covid19. In particular we think about the people we interviewed that have learnt the skills to extract value from waste under difficult circumstances in the big cities of South Africa.

Photo credit: Yvette Kruger, Substance Films,

We hope the fruits of our labour can be of use for the wider POLLEN and political ecology community.

On behalf of the TLR team – Henrik Ernstson

The TLR team has been (in alphabetical order): Henrik Ernstson (Co-I), Mary Lawhon (Co-I), Anesu Makina (PhD student), Nate Millington (Postdoc), Kathleen Stokes (PhD student), Erik Swyngedouw (PI). 

Support: We have received lots of support from friends and colleagues at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town; The University of Manchester; University of Oklahoma, and Substance Films. 

Funding received: ESRC-DFID (Poverty Alleviation; Ref: ES/M009408/1).

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