The City’s Life Force: Waste Work in Beirut during Crisis and Collapse

The City’s Life Force: Waste Work in Beirut during Crisis and Collapse 

By Elizabeth Saleh and Rita Jarrous 

In this photo-essay, we document the efforts of waste workers as they handle and sort through discarded and recyclable items in Beirut. We show how these workers are “vital infrastructures” to the city (Fredericks 2018). And yet, public discussions in Lebanon about waste management almost entirely overlook the role of labour in infrastructural systems. The absence of waste work from much analysis may have to do with the fact that much of it is carried out by migrants, many of whom are undocumented (Saleh 2021). It might also have to do with the heavy emphasis within policy on waste technologies (Saleh & Jarrous, forthcoming). 

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