Waste: The first and final frontier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Waste has a seemingly contradictory dual nature in capitalist economy. It is both prior to and after property, at once a pre-condition and a result of enclosure, production and accumulation. This chapter examines this duality by developing an understanding of waste frontiers: liminal zones in which people, places and things are cast out of and re-incorporated into processes of capitalist accumulation. It details the cultural and ecological co-constitution of resource frontiers and waste frontiers, situating them in capitalism's expansionary imperative and maps the ways these two frontiers are materially connected, suggesting that waste frontiers are becoming increasingly important sites of appropriation as devalued materials pushed out of circulation constitute a necessary outside from which to initiate new cycles of accumulation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Handbook of Economic Anthropology
EditorsJames G. Carrier
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781839108921
ISBN (Print)9781839108914
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2022


  • waste
  • frontiers
  • resources
  • growth
  • circular economy
  • environmental anthropology
  • economic anthropology


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