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Accepted Paper:

Plasticising boundaries: collaborative methodologies for decolonising plastics research with the majority world  
Deirdre McKay (Keele University) Elyse Stanes (University of Wollongong) Padmapani Perez (Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities)

Paper short abstract:

To challenge intrusive and shame-based regulatory solutions proposed for the plastics crisis, alternative methodologies for collaborative research are required. With grassroots activists, we show why mapping plastics' local ontologies first should ground and nuance more global campaigns.

Paper long abstract:

Plastics are a material marker of an uneven but global dependence on fossil fuels, contributing to new geographies of terrestrial and marine pollution and producing potentially inequitable impacts on human and non-human health. In response to the emerging materials crisis, we have seen the rapid development of alternative materials, new forms of recycled plastics and recycling technologies, all accompanied by proposed changes in commodity chains and intensified regulation of consumer practices for use and disposal. But these solutions do not fit well when they cross the permeable and problematic boundary from minority to majority world contexts. Relations of power implicit in these regulatory and materials changes emerge in our ongoing collaborations with academics, local government officials, activists and artists living and working in the Cagayan Valley, Luzon, Philippines. Reflecting on the precariousness of knowledge exchange and the space of ethics in and around co-producing local and regional approaches to plastic pollution, our analysis attends to the power assembled and deployed in mitigation strategies and the regulatory construction of the citizen-polluter (Liboiron, 2018) here. Problematising the agency of expert knowledge in majority world contexts, we identify obstacles to multi-disciplinary knowledge construction, illuminate ethical choices behind mitigation approaches, and critique the dominant approach to co-produced participatory citizen science research (Liboiron, 2019). Working from local ontologies to plastics, we suggest alternative methodologies to enable the grassroots activism which both reframes plastic pollution as materialised social inequality and reshapes the intrusive and shame-based regulatory solutions currently proposed.

Panel Evid03b
Intractable plastic: responsibilities in ‘plasticized’ worlds II
  Session 1 Thursday 1 April, 2021, -