robin nagle

robin nagle

[new york]

intro’d to Robin here:

What I discovered in New York City trash

New York City residents produce 11,000 tons of garbage every day. Every day! This astonishing statistic is just one of the reasons Robin Nagle started a research project with the city’s Department of Sanitation. She walked the routes, operated mechanical brooms, even drove a garbage truck herself–all so she could answer a simple-sounding but complicated question: who cleans up after us?

Robin Nagle is an anthropologist with a very particular focus… garbage

who cleans up after us

however you configure us.. in istanbul, paris, rio, london….

sanitation is one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the country

the relentlessness of trash.. it never stops must always be in motion

put on the uniform and you become invisible until you get in their way.. then there is scorn

the stigma is especially ironic..

sanitation workers are the most important labor force on the streets of the city

  1. they are the first guardians of public health…
  2. the economy needs them – if we can’t throw out old
  3. how fast we’re used to moving.. we use we throw away

how to bring them into the conversation.. how to craft a city that is sustainable and humane.. 

they are a form of reassurance.. the flow they maintain keeps us safe from ourselves

rhizomatic expertise..

we’re going to be ok... Paulie

in our effort to reconfigure how we are going to exist on this planet.. we need to take into account ..all the costs ,,and all the expertise..


find/follow Robin:

link twitter

her site:

robin nagle site

I study the relationship between trash and cities.

Robin is director of the anthropology program nyu:

robin on uni site

robin nagle write up

interview about her book:

Picking Up

Published on Jun 11, 2013

Our guest is New York University professor and author Robin Nagle to discuss her newly released book titled “Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City.” She suggests that the garbage men and women are the most important people on the payroll serving New York City’s 8.2 million residents.

my secret mission – for people to understand how amazing anthropology is as an umbrella – frame – for asking who are we as human beings…

there is no secret back door to get this job.. in ny 10000 workers..

no one is going to help you cheat your way in

excellent benefits…

52 min- your degree level is irrelevant to how well you do on the job, and how well you care for your partner on the street

next step – archives.. and relationship between land shape and garbage and history and memory

cost for garbage removal in ny this last year – 1.3 billion


picking up

book links to amazon


Robin is one of the authors for discard studies:




Gel 2009

Listening to New York City sanitation workers – and working side-by-side with them – NYU professor Robin Nagle uncovered a wealth of knowledge about the job and the people who keep the city clean.

Nagle also talks about our relationship with trash – and why we might want to respect, maybe even love, what we leave behind. This is an anthropological study well worth learning from.

ethnography – we hang out with people….

garbage is scary to us.. and it’s fascinating..

time – we live at the speed of lite.. we must move quickly.. so we can’t be encumbered by stuff – so that means it has to flow – has to be in perpetual motion 

nyc – 14,000 tons of discharge a day

what endures of us.. 

photo album, piano, cooking pots.. stuff that has meaning in it.. so what endures is not in fact, stuff..

the story is that nothing endures.. unnerving/terrifying even..

how did the photo album of aunt ellie end up on the curb

so what does last? .. ironically.. the garbage does.

20% of nyc is built on fill, .. household waste

working on sanitation museum… specifically around the people 


connected to Michael Wesch…?  Mike Rowe…?

city ness


waste not