In August 1938, nearly 12,000 majority-white New Deal laborers employed by the federal government began clearing land, relocating communities, and erecting a forty-two-mile system of dams and dikes under the direction of the South Carolina Public Service Authority.
When Saidiya Hartman visits the slave fort for the first time, she confronts the sight and smell of waste and dirt in the dungeon cells. She travels to Ghana to experience a diasporic connection with her ancestors, but there is no sign of the enslaved within the grimy walls of the fort. Considering the emptiness of this archive, the slave fort is a site of heritage tourism that fails in its purpose of commemorating the dead.
The tactile power of the moist black mountain soil that has nourished the coffee estate for nearly a hundred and fifty years ran deep through the cold veins of my bare feet resting on the earth.
This essay is a preliminary reflection on some of the human and other aspects of the waste-crisis I came across during fieldwork in the Bhalswa landfill located on the periphery of North-West Delhi.