In the last few decades, the literature on waste has soared and taken two main directions. Considering the assumption that waste is a natural category, which we need to ‘dispose of’, the scholarship on waste management and its sustainability offers mainly problem-solving propositions (e.g., the 3Rs proposal—re-cycling, re-using, and reducing—or ‘circular economy’). The social scientific waste studies literature takes a more critical stance from its outset and advances a relational account of waste. We aim to bring those two main research streams into dialogue through a presentation of two case studies among indigenous communities in the Russian North. Not only we disclose the hidden biases of the notion of circular economy and other ‘innovative’ problem-solving practices in the waste management literature, but we also propose to pay more attention to non-hegemonic waste practices amongst communities, which are often overlooked in both the waste management and the social studies of waste literature.
Bibliographical noteWe are extremely grateful to our field collaborators for their time, sharing their knowledge and practices, which opened this new field of research for both of us. We would also like to express our infinite gratitude to the two anonymous reviewers for their precious comments, which hugely helped us improve our review.
The work done by Siragusa was supported by the Humanities Program at the Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, and by KONE Säätiö, NORMAL [grant number 201805889, 2018]. Fieldwork was also supported by the ERC Advanced Grant, Arctic Domus [grant number 295458, 2011].
The work done by Arzyutov was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. [716211 - GRETPOL]) and by the Russian Scientific Foundation, The Energy of the Arctic and Siberia: The Use of Resources in the Context of Socio-Economic and Ecological Change [18-18-00309, 2018].