Synopses & Reviews
Wastelands is an in-depth exploration of trash, the scavengers who collect it, and the precarious communities it sustains. After enduring war and persecution in Kosovo, many Ashkali refugees fled to Belgrade, Serbia, where they were stigmatized as Gypsies, consigned to slums, sidelined from the economy, and subjected to violence. To survive, Ashkali collect the only resource available to them: garbage. Vividly recounting everyday life in an illegal Romani settlement, Eirik Saethre's searing book follows Ashkali as they scavenge through dumpsters, build shacks, siphon electricity, negotiate the recycling trade, and migrate between Belgrade, Kosovo, and the European Union. Saethre argues that trash is not just a means of survival--it reinforces the status of Ashkali as a polluted Other, creates indissoluble bonds to transnational capitalism, enfeebles bodies, and establishes a localized sovereignty. In these geographies of displacement, suffering is boring and trash is transformative.