Here It Is Toxic, There It Is Not

Talk, in English, 16 March 2017
Muller Jodoin: Here It Is Toxic, There It Is Not

On New Year’s Eve 1987, the people of Gonaïves, an impoverished port town on Haiti’s west coast, awoke to 4,000 tons of toxic ash. Amidst political turmoil in Haiti, officials had approved the import of toxic waste from the United States classified as “fertilizer.” In this case, the ash came from Philadelphia, which was facing a waste management crisis brought on by the costs of meeting the requirements of new national environmental legislation. Philadelphia opted to relocate its hazardous waste to the Global South, thereby entering the grey market of what some call “voluntary exchange” and others, “garbage imperialism.”

Gonaïves is just one of the many sites that sustain industrial capitalism and the premises of continuous growth and profit maximization in the late twentieth century. By following this toxic cargo and some of the ghost ships that carry it around the globe, this talk will explore the motivations of those who engage in the trade, and offer insights into possible alternatives.

The lecture by Simone M. Müller will be followed by a response from Sébastien Jodoin, professor of law at McGill University.

Simone M. Müller is principal investigator and project manager of the DFG-Emmy Noether research group Hazardous Travels: Ghost Acres and the Global Waste Economy, which is hosted by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. She is the author of Wiring the World: The Social and Cultural Construction of Global Telegraph Networks (2016), and she is a Young Fellow of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research at the Universität Bielefeld.

Sébastien Jodoin is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at McGill University. His research seeks to understand law and public policy in the context of the manifold forces associated with globalization, processes of social change, new and evolving forms of public and private governance, and the pursuit of sustainability at various levels.

Related exhibition


Sign up to get news from us

Email address
First name
Last name
By signing up you agree to receive our newsletter and communications about CCA activities. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, consult our privacy policy or contact us.

Thank you for signing up. You'll begin to receive emails from us shortly.

We’re not able to update your preferences at the moment. Please try again later.

You’ve already subscribed with this email address. If you’d like to subscribe with another, please try again.

This email was permanently deleted from our database. If you’d like to resubscribe with this email, please contact us

Please complete the form below to buy:
[Title of the book, authors]
ISBN: [ISBN of the book]
Price [Price of book]

First name
Last name
Address (line 1)
Address (line 2) (optional)
Postal code
Email address
Phone (day) (optional)

Thank you for placing an order. We will contact you shortly.

We’re not able to process your request at the moment. Please try again later.

Folder ()

Your folder is empty.

Please complete this form to make a request for consultation. A copy of this list will also be forwarded to you.

Your contact information
First name:
Last name:
Phone number:
Notes (optional):
We will contact you to set up an appointment. Please keep in mind that your consultation date will be based on the type of material you wish to study. To prepare your visit, we'll need:
  • — At least 2 weeks for primary sources (prints and drawings, photographs, archival documents, etc.)
  • — At least 48 hours for secondary sources (books, periodicals, vertical files, etc.)