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.

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 one go from wanting to be the next Meryl Streep to studying garbage?

Via Skype, wearing a tank top that shows off the colorful dragon tattoo on her left shoulder (designed and inked by Ed Hardy), Nagle says that her career trajectory took an unexpected turn in 1987 when…

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