Tag Archives: Robin Nagle

unCOMMON Salon: Robin Nagle’s “Labors of Waste and the Value of Knowledge” 4/24 @ 6pm, Bobst Library

Hello Draper students,

Draper’s Director Robin Nagle will be giving a talk on Thursday, April 24, on the New York Department of Sanitation in discussion with her most recent book, “Picking Up”.  Light refreshments will be served at the event, read more and RSVP below!


unCOMMON Salon Series @ the Research Commons Presented by Business & Government Documents, Coles Science Center, Social Sciences & Humanities Reference Center

“Labors of Waste and the Value of Knowledge”


A talk by Dr. Robin Nagle

Thursday, April 24th from 6:00 – 7:30pm 
Bobst Library, 5th Floor West,  Media Viewing Center          


An effective means of managing garbage is necessary for any urban area to thrive. This talk delves into the history and contemporary details of New York City’s municipal solid waste management system and reveals the surprising complexities of what most people assume is a straightforward task. What kinds of expertise are necessary to do the job well? How are these forms of knowledge acquired?  Given their importance in the daily well-being of the city, how is such knowledge valued or discounted, and by whom? What’s the consequence of invisibility when it’s a regular part of life for a workforce of 10,000 people?

 Robin Nagle’s most recent book, Picking Up, is an ethnography of New York’s Department of Sanitation. As part of her research, she was hired as a New York City sanitation worker. During her time on the job, she loaded out trucks, operated mechanical brooms, and plowed snow. She is the anthropologist-in-residence for the DSNY, is a clinical associate professor of anthropology, and directs the Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Arts and Science.

 Light refreshments will be served. 

All are welcome!

Please RSVP at: 



Draper Director in Time Out New York

Draper Director in Time Out New York

Draper Director Robin Nagle is featured in the Public Eye section of this month’s Time Out New York magazine, discussing her role as the Anthropologist-in-Residence at New York’s Department of Sanitation. Check out the piece, below. Congrats, Robin!

Videos from Robin Nagle’s “Great New Books” Event

Hello all,
In case you missed our director, Robin Nagle, discussing her new book at the Humanities Initiative last week, you can check out some video! See clips, or the full talk, below:
“What does the future of waste management and recycling look like?”:http://youtu.be/dRaJVxhuZ6k
“How does the NYC Dept of Sanitation handle snow removal?”:http://youtu.be/TESP404IZ6w
“What is the vision for a Museum of Sanitation and Sustainability?:http://youtu.be/NjkYvO9jAoo

New Draper Spring Course!

Draperites! Our fearless leader, Robin Nagle, will be teaching the below course this spring. Interested students should email Robert Dimit (robert.dimit@nyu.edu) for approval.


Garbage in Gotham: The Anthropology of Trash
Robin Nagle
Draper Program / Anthropology
Spring 2014 / Wednesdays, 6:20 – 8:20
Garbage is understood as a practical problem, but this course also considers values, traditions, and cultural assumptions inherent in the notion of “trash.” How is the material object called “garbage” created, perceived, processed, ignored? What are the economics of garbage in Gotham more than a decade after the city’s last landfill closed? What are the social assumptions that allow garbage to be an acceptable, even inevitable part of daily life?
The class starts with readings that propose more inclusive parameters for authoritative knowledge so that waste in general, and garbage in particular, might find a place in academic discourse. We then look at ideas of private property and value imparted to material objects and consider how such measures are inverted in the process of creating trash. Readings move to anthropologists who have studied distinctions between the sacred and the profane. We include philosophies and histories of waste and worth. We step into contemporary conversations about trash through several considerations, including the gendering of both domestic and municipal trash management, the history of garbage handling in various times and places, the relationship between garbage and consumption, the labors of waste (who exactly is responsible for taking away the trash?), garbage archaeology, and the ways in which solid waste and related industrial processes shape landscape — among many other themes.

Congrats to Draper Alumna, Shanna Farrell!

We’re so pleased to announce that recent Draper grad, Shanna Farrell, starts a new job on Monday! Building on work she did in Robin Nagle’s Topics in the City course last year (Oral History, Labors of Waste, and the Value of Knowledge), she will be the Assistant Academic Specialist in the Regional Oral History Office at the University of California, Berkeley.

Nice work, Shanna!