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'Mas alla de la basura': la representacion y la voz del recolector informal de materiales reciclables en textos escritos y filmicos de tres paises sudamericanos

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posted on 2023-01-19, 11:22 authored by Meredith Louise Wrigley
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment for the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the School of Languages, Histories and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

In the 1988 Argentinian novella El basural the narrator, a waste-picker named Doña Argentina, highlights to her implicit interlocutor the importance of looking ‘más allá de la basura’ [beyond rubbish]. This is an appeal to him and, by extension, the reader to reconsider preconceived views not merely of waste, but also of the waste-picker. This dissertation examines the representation of the waste-picker in post-1950s written and filmic texts from three bordering South American countries ― Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil ― affected by a common crisis. The investigation centres on the waste-picker’s capacity for self-representation within the texts and the extent to which these challenge stereotypical regimes of representation. All of the texts possess non-fictional characteristics. However, more importantly, they were chosen as research corpus due to the fact that all of them, with the exception of two films, in one way or another manage to give voice to the waste-pickers they represent. In this regard, the texts are ground-breaking, given that waste-pickers form one of the most overlooked groups in South American societies, being stigmatised and consequently marginalised, due to the abject nature of their occupation. Moreover, representations of waste-pickers have been overwhelmingly characterised by an exaggeration of their abjection or a silencing of their voice, which precludes an unbiased reflection of their real situation. Drawing on the theory of representation, this dissertation analyses not only how depictions of the waste-picker in the chosen texts challenge stereotypical regimes of representation, allowing the reader to see beyond rubbish, but also the extent to which such depictions are examples of self-representation, and thus permit the waste-pickers to exert their onscreen or intext agency.


Center or Department

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. School of Languages, Histories and Cultures.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


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The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over the content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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arrow migration 2023-01-10 00:15. Ref: latrobe:38142 (9e0739)

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