For most of us, recycling is about disposal. We separate bottles, paper, and cans from trash, put them all in bins, and send them off. In West Africa, though, the stuff of everyday life is used and reused with tremendous creativity. Historian Emily Osborn discusses her book-in-progress Recycling Tradition: Aluminum Casting and the Making of a Modern African Diaspora, which focuses on the widespread use of a relatively young technique, aluminum casting, to melt and recycle scrap metal into cookware and other objects of everyday life. Highlighting ingenuity in the face of limited resources, she uncovers a world where things have uses and meanings far beyond their origins.
Read the CHF Blog post about this program.