Friday, March 07, 2014

The Zabaleen of Cairo, Egypt

Have you ever heard of the Zabaleen? 

Well you should consider looking into them - especially if you're interested in where urban anthropology and environmental issues intersect. The Zabaleen "Garbage People" are a group of refuse collectors and recyclers that predominantly live in Cairo. They are a well established group consisting of upwards of 70 000 people that have informally served as garbage collectors for over 70 years. In fact, they are argued to be the world's most efficient recyclers as they are capable of recycling 80-85% of waste. However, Cairo has begun to adopt neoliberal ideologies that place urban branding and renewal at the forefront of its political agenda. This has led to the privatization of municipal waste management and the attempted displacement of the Zabaleen as they are accused of what essentially boils down to an eye sore in Cairo's bid for a clean and attractive city that hopes to promote tourism and foreign investment. 

If you're interested in finding out more, you can brush up on your research from some of the following links or track me down in class to have a conversation!

Cairo’s Contested Garbage: Sustainable Solid Waste Management and the Zabaleen’s Right to the City

Crushed? Cairo's Garbage Collectons and Neoliberal Urban Politics 


Blogger Sharon said...

great post! Interesting to think about the ways in which people are considered "eyesores", more so than the waste that they so effectively remove from the urban landscape. Lots of parallels here to the case of Irish Travellers, who are also involved in informal recycling & waste industries (although to a much lesser extent than the zabaleen) - and are also considered to be a blemish on the urban landscape.

3/11/2014 12:14 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/20/2014 4:42 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Super interesting. 80-85 waste reduction and THEY'RE being marginalized? An example if ever there was one of this neoliberal garbage (get it?).

3/20/2014 4:44 PM  

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