Walking through Litter by Nirmal Puwar

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Litter is volatile matter. Not only in the sense described by Jane Bennett as Vibrant Matter (2003). But also, politically. It comes with racial undertones. Litter is also a depressing symptom of the neglect of the city; of streets and parks. My friend and colleague Yasmin Gunuratnam referred to a piece of writing I compiled this summer, from walking in my childhood city, as ‘ethnographic campaigning’. These were her words exactly. Walking practices have been extensively studied and instituted in urban and rural landscapes. In this piece, Walking Through Litter, I use walking as a way of knowing and being in the city. As well as, importantly, a call for the right for civic care of the city. This has evolved from a series of creative, engaged and political interventions to how we live in cities.
Dr Nirmal Puwar is Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London

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