Managing Trash: New Urban Governance and Political Networks in Argentina

Summer 2006

Rebecca Baran-Rees : Political Science

Mentor: Michael Watts, Geography

My research project addresses the important questions of how new forms of governance are emerging in response to the growing challenges of urban management in many parts of the third world. Specifically, I will investigate the newest forms of solid waste management initiatives in Argentina put forth by the World Bank, the national and provincial governments of Argentina, local cooperatives and private agencies—and the extent to which these organizational forms can actualize participatory development goals. As hundreds of thousands of Argentinos have taken to picking and sorting trash as a means for survival, it is increasingly important to assess how these new networks of urban and regional governance are bridging the private-public divide—and ultimately whether the interests of the “intended beneficiaries” are truly being included in development projects.

By putting my knowledge and research to test in the real world, UC Berkeley has given me an incredible opportunity. Being accepted to engage in research abroad will help me further my interests in development and more specifically allow me room to develop my own skills as a researcher. I believe in learning through experience, which is why I strongly support programs such as these which push students to leave the classroom and practice their critical thinking in ways which can hopefully serve to develop theory and influence other bodies of work.