My City: trash anthropologist Robin Nagle talks garbage, New York City


Originally posted on TED Blog:

In the first of a series of city-related articles, we profile Robin Nagle, anthropologist-in-residence at the Department of Sanitation and long-time resident of New York City. She describes a life dedicated to, well, trash, and documents some of her favorite locations throughout the American city’s boroughs, captured in an accompanying photoessay by Ryan Lash.

"Any walkable bridge can put you in liminal space -- that is, an in-between space -- that changes your visual and physical relationship to the city. You sense the power and history of the water flowing under you, you feel the rise and descent of the structure much more immediately than if you're driving over it in a car, and you experience a slower, more human-paced transition from the starting point to the end point. The bridges are also beautiful examples of decades of architectural legacy and change. Compare the lines of the Brooklyn Bridge (shown here) and the George Washington Bridge, and you can sense the remarkable social and cultural shifts that happened between the first (built in 1883) and the second (built in 1931). Photograph: Ryan Lash.
“Any walkable bridge can put you in liminal space — that is, an in-between space — that changes your visual and physical relationship to the city,” says anthropologist Robin Nagle. Shown here, one of her favorite New York City landmarks, the Brooklyn Bridge, built in 1883. Photograph: Ryan Lash.

In 1982, Robin Nagle moved to New York City from Saranac Lake, in upstate New York, to become an actor. Today, she is the anthropologist-in-residence with the Department of Sanitation in New York (DSNY) and a professor in the anthropology department at NYU. So how does…

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