ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Afterlife of Things in a Delhi Junkyard

Liminal Debris of Consumer Culture

The trajectory of “things” that are declared obsolete is mapped to argue that a junkyard is not merely a repository of the redundant, but also a liminal space between waste and trash, as well as use and reuse. An exploration of a junkyard in the Mayapuri neighbourhood of Delhi reveals how value is extracted from waste, bypassing the imposed norms of planned obsolescence in order to induce life into the lifeless. A complex set of relationships between the imposed rules of obsolescence and actual practices of a junkyard are observed to argue that “waste” is not merely matter out of place or matter without place, but it is essentially matter on the move.

This article was presented in the British Association of South Asian Studies Conference at the University of Exeter, 18–20 April 2018.

The author would like to thank Dipankar Gupta and Kaveri Gill for going through the initial drafts and providing comments.

Technologies that imagine processes, design things that are not built to last, and promote values that fetishise the new, provide an exciting context to follow the afterlife of the disposed, discarded, unwanted, and abandoned.

This article explores the afterlife of the ephemeral. While tracing the post-life transactions of the disposed, discarded, displaced, and dismantled, it concerns itself with the consequences of forced or planned obsolescence in urban spaces to observe rapid transformations in the nature of the transaction of apparently redundant and obsolete things.

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Updated On : 26th Nov, 2018
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