Welcome to The Posthumanities Hub Seminar with Myra Hird on Iqaluit’s Dumpcano and the Indeterminate Material Politics of Waste.

When: 18th October, 10:15-12
Where: in the seminar room at the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH (Teknikringen 74 D, Stockholm).

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Iqaluit, Nunavut Canada’s capital city, became a center of controversy when its main ‘West 40’ dump spontaneously caught fire on May 20th 2014. This presentation argues that Iqaluit’s ‘dumpcano’ may be usefully understood as a virtuality that temporarily condensed a set of relations between the dump as a material object (or more specifically a multi-species bio-geology) and a number of economic, cultural, political, and social conditions. Drawing upon archival sources and primary interview data with a range of local respondents, my presentation examines how scientific and government discourses attempted to convey to the public a uniform ‘message’ of scientific certainty concerning levels of contamination and threats to human health and the environment. For their part, concerned residents and emergent activist groups engaged with official and unofficial ‘messaging’ in terms of material uncertainty. As such, the discourses that developed around the dump fire differentially made visible and registered, or obscured and attempted to displace, the shifting material properties of the dump. I make the case that non-expert local residents were able to effectively mobilize scientific uncertainty to draw attention to the links between the dump fire and issues of social justice.

Myra J. Hird is Professor, Queen’s National Scholar, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in the School of Environmental Studies, Queen’s University, Canada (www.myrahird.com). Professor Hird is Director of Waste Flow, an interdisciplinary research project focused on waste as a global scientific-technical and socio-ethical issue (www.wasteflow.ca).  Hird has published nine books and over seventy articles and book chapters on a diversity of topics relating to science studies. Hird’s forthcoming book is entitled Canada’s Waste Flows and will be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.