The waste-value dialectic: Lumpen urbanization in contemporary India

Vinay Gidwani, Anant Maringanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Capitalist value making is underwritten by the production and disposal of waste through a complex, often invisible economy of informal waste recycling. This infra-economy is anchored by nodes that process and circulate variegated forms of waste generated in cities and their adjoining hinterlands. Bholakpur, in the city of Hyderabad, India, is one such place. There are hundreds like it scattered around the country. Even as they perform the double function of reproducing the urban economy while inoculating it from the injurious effects of its own detritus, places like Bholakpur and the people who work and reside there are continuously abjected by civil society's propertied classes, which view them with anxiety and loathing, as a source of crime, nuisance and detriment. Thus, "waste" as concept-matter but also a locus where labor and ecology meet is a neglected but powerful site for a critique of both postcolonial capitalism and contemporary urbanization in countries like India.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-133
Number of pages22
JournalComparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Capitalism
  • Civil society
  • Dialectic
  • Lumpenproletariat
  • Urbanization
  • Waste

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