Overheating Seminar: Ronald Stade
Welcome to the Overheating seminar with Professor Ronald Stade (Malmö university) who will speak about the politics of human waste in Accra, Ghana in the context of exclusion, inclusion and the globalisation of neoliberalism.
Highly recommended -- all are welcome!
Abstract: ‘SODOM AND GOMORRAH’ THE POLITICS OF HUMAN WASTE IN ACCRA, GHANA
The global triumph of capitalism is accompanied by a language of perpetual crisis. In Ghana’s capital, Accra, a number of crises are attributed to a particular site, namely the country’s largest slum, called Old Fadama by local activists and ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ by everyone else. The slum is located in downtown Accra, on a spit of land in the middle of Korle Lagoon, which flows directly into the Gulf of Guinea. The lagoon is probably one of the most polluted bodies of water on the planet, which Ghanaian media and politicians routinely blame on the residents of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’. This part of Accra is portrayed as an unsanitary muddle of shacks inhabited by illegal squatters from the country’s poorer northern part, which also happens to be largely Muslim and which has seen sporadic and deadly outbursts of so-‐called ‘ethnic’ conflict. ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ is said to be a hotbed of crime and vice, a no-‐go zone for anyone wishing to stay safe. In short: ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ is made out to be a cradle for crisis: ecological, economic, security, identity etc. On several occasions, plans were made to evict the residents of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ and to restore the ecology of Korle Lagoon. Local activists, concerned with the rights of Ghana’s slum and shack dwellers, build public toilets instead. Being able to defecate safely is one of the most pressing issues in places like Old Fadama. An old adage is to follow the money. In the story of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ it may be just as enlightening to follow the shit: how is human waste managed on a daily basis in Old Fadama, in Accra, in Ghana, in general? Where does it go? What is the connection between squatting and squatting, between human waste and humans as waste? Viewing glocal crises through existential concerns like the need to relieve oneself will be used to strike a balance between human commonality and human diversity, between facticity and contingency and between concern and scepticism.