SENKU-seminar med Samwel Moses Ntapanta
Transient E-Waste Spaces: Labour, Kinship and Capital in Electronic Waste Salvaging
Photo: Samwel Moses Ntapanta
When my project team and I arrived in Dar es salaam around March 2018, we were astonished to find out that there were no heaps of e-waste compared to information we had read in literature and news. We visited the Pugu landfill, the only landfill serving the city, to find scarce electronic waste (e-waste) afterlives, mainly keyboards, bulbs, pc and tv housing. The question was, where was e-waste?
In this talk, I bring forth an e-waste workshop in a post-colonial city as a workplace—a gatekeeper between electronics consumers and the landfill, and a hook-up of e-waste value back to circularity. The usual narrative is that electronic waste labour is separated or hidden from cities fabrics, on empty grounds, wastelands and out of sight. Places that its environment and bio-bodies are recipients of toxins violence. Mahakama ya friji (refrigerator court) workshop, like many other e-waste informal labour places, is not merely a recipient of e-waste discharges.
Notwithstanding, Mahakama ya friji is a workplace where labour is exerted and commodities produced. It is an assemblage of history and labour, ethnicity and kinship relations, valorisation and value transformation, ingenuity and innovation. At the workshop, traditional techniques and late capitalism technologies meet to address waste problems, create livelihood, and foster entrepreneurship.
Samwel Moses Ntapanta is a PhD fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo. He is part of the AnthroTox, an interdisciplinary project on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and electronic waste in Tanzania as well as in Norway. Samwel´s PhD project focuses on informal e-waste economies encounters through repairing, repurposing and reusing, its entanglement in urban landscapes and social-cultural values that emerge out of electronic discards.