Elana Faye Resnick

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

California, Santa Barbara, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10381

Approve Date

October 11, 2022

Project Title

Resnick, Elana (California, Santa Barbara, U. of) "Refusing Sustainability: Life Beyond Waste at the Edges of Europe"

Refusing Sustainabilities explores the intersection of waste and race to ask how we might conceive of new possibilities for social change amid what my interlocutors call conditions of ‘no life.’ Anti-Roma racism is ubiquitous across Europe. In Bulgaria, disenfranchised Romani women make up most of the country’s waste workers. As they work with material garbage to provide the waste labor essential to ‘progressive’ EU environmentalism, Bulgaria treats Roma as social waste. Thus, their oppression is directly tied to the country’s ability to meet the waste mandates required for membership in the European Union. Based upon over 46 months of fieldwork with street sweepers, waste executives, environmental consultants, government officials, activists in Bulgaria, and archival analysis covering 120 years, the book tells the story of racialization in relationship to environmental ‘modernization.’ It reveals how the logics of racialized disposability’the positioning of marginalized communities as expendable ‘waste”can sustain progressivist environmentalism. Chapters explore how environmental initiatives, critical to the project of European expansion, reinforce enduring racial orders and establish new ones. Then, it addresses how people living among, working with, and seen as waste refuse to sustain the status quo and together generate new avenues for collective social transformation.