Talk by Stefan Laser, University of Kassel

Wednesday 27th March, 12-1pm, Sociology, Bowland North SR21, Lancaster University

On High-Tech Recycling. Some lessons from a global ethnography of electronic waste

Stefan Laser (University of Kassel, Germany)

This presentation discusses key findings from a global multi-sited ethnography. Based on research in India (on a new law and its negotiation), Germany (on a professional recycler and its daily struggles), and the internet (on modular smartphones, which claimed to rethink digital devices), the contours of an emerging infrastructure are highlighted. But what does it actually mean to study a global infrastructure? Attuning to practices of infrastructuring is a constant challenge; ethnographers here need to follow and unfollow certain actors, which indicates a particular reflexive stance. Engaging with this challenge then also helps in dealing with normativities in an original way.

Stefan is a research assistant at the University of Kassel, Germany (with the department of Sociology), and currently a visiting scholar in Lancaster. His research is contributing to science & technology studies, economic sociology, environmental sociology, and most importantly valuation as well as waste/discard studies. In his now concluded PhD work he rethinks valuation practices through and with waste, also by way of crafting a ‘valuographic’ research programme (where the making of values is put centre stage). With this he carefully develops a critical perspective on the infrastructure of high-tech-recycling.