At the Ends of Media: E-Waste Pollution, Secondhand Extraction, and Environmental Politics in Guiyu, China


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships


Film and Media Studies


Situated in the e-waste recycling town of Guiyu, China, this research explores how the global e-waste economy reshaped local ecologies, bodies, subjectivities, and politics during the Green Belt and Road Initiative, 2013-2030. Building upon China’s politico-economic concept of “ershou,” or secondhand, it introduces the concept of “secondhand extraction” to trace the processes of e-waste recycling and mineral extraction as an underexposed phase of labor and natural resource extraction. Through sensory-ethnographic methods and media-art making, this project provides a detailed account of local living practices as creative survival tactics in a polluted environment. It reflects on the tangible effects of unequal global e-waste flow through bodily and sensory experiences. By comparing the body-centric smell walk with the digital technology used for (odor) data collection, it examines how China’s circular economy investments prompt the development of environmental science and technology and explore new resource frontiers within its domestic space and globally.