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Department of Social Anthropology



I am an ESRC postdoctoral fellow in anthropology with an interest in the environment, science and technology and the economics of environmental solutions. My research sits at the intersection of environmental and economic anthropology with a specialisation in waste infrastructures and the unmaking of waste into clean and regulated resources in pursuit of circular economy business models. I am particularly interested in how under the current state of multiple pressures from the ecology, economy, and societal breakdown businesses are at the forefront of trying to reimagine what the good of society might look like. They are becoming active agents of societal change which is rescripting labour practices and the values produced. My research also integrates earlier training and research interests in South Asian literatures, caste issues and infrastructural development.


I am in the process of turning my doctoral thesis into a monograph titled “The Value of Waste: materiality, ethics and value transformations in Delhi’s e-waste sector.” For a year, I worked closely with Sahih Kaam, a circular economy startup, and its scrap dealers who are engaged in changing the way e-waste is recycled in India. I traced ethnographically the economic exchange between these two groups to gain an understanding of what circular economy practices may look like in action and the remaking of waste into clean, regulated secondary resources may entail. I was interested in the knowledge and valuation practices that underpin the practicalities of working out the right and profitable way to recycle e-waste. Unlike in the EU, loose Indian regulatory frameworks force Sahih Kaam to engage in socio-economic experimentations across the hierarchically divided society of the Indian capital. By tracing these experimentations, I explore the circular economy concept in action and begin to develop an understanding of the vast transformations that political economy is undergoing to unknown directions in time of climate emergency.

I was awarded fellowships for my Ph.D. research from the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Royal Anthropological Institute, UK. I was appointed a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany in 2021.


Research interests

Environmental advocacy, e-waste, South Asian notions of environmental and ritual pollution, anthropology of waste, waste work, ethics, and economic transformations




(forthcoming) “Making e-waste circular: countering vicious circles & materializing honesty.” In Patrick O’Hare and Dagna Rams eds. Circular Economies: Between the Promise of Renewal and Unequal Global Circulation. London: Zed Books.

(forthcoming) “Re-enchantment with the waste of the world: expressing futures and representing wastelands in Chen Qiufan’s Waste Tide.” For a special issue on Apocalyptic Waste. The Revenant.

(2023). “E-waste is toxic, but for whom? The body politics of knowing toxic flows in Delhi.” Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space for a Camelia Dewan and Elizabeth Sibillia eds. special issue on Toxic Flows.

2021. “Where is toxicity located? Side glances through fieldwork in a toxic place,” Anthropology Today 37(4).

2020. “Narratives of dysfunction and success stories in e-waste recycling in India,” Thematic thread: When Things don’t Hold: Anthropologies of Failure, Breakdown, and Dysfunction. Allegra blog.



July 2023. “How to take responsibility for your own waste? Lessons from fly tipping​.” Seminar presentation at the Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchesters.

June 2023. “Fly tipping as a question of responsibility in highly regulated waste management systems” at Opening the Bin 3 at Lancaster.

April 2023. “Delhi’s unlikely ecological alliances: the social and economic effects of regularizing the e-waste trade” At the Association of Social Anthropology’s annual meeting in “The Good City” panel.

September 2022. “Impacting numbers: “disrupting the status quo” in India’s e-waste recycling sector.” At the Financialisation and Innovation workshop at the University of Cambridge.

July 2021. “Doing it Right: strange alliances and material arrangements of honesty in Delhi, the recycling capital of India.” At the 26th European Conference on South Asian Studies, panel discussion on Urban India: Socio, Spatial and Political Trajectories.

July 2020. “Conditions of Circular Economy and the Threat of Vicious Circles.” At the EASA2020 panel “The circular economy: between promises of renewal and unequal global circulation.” (online). 

June 2020. “Bodily Knowledge of Toxic Flows and Toxic Wastelands Elsewhere.” At the Royal Anthropology Institute’s 2020 conference Anthropology and Geography (online)

February 2020. “The Genre of Dysfunction and Narratives of Success Stories in E-waste Recycling.” At “When things don't hold: Anthropologies of Failure, Breakdown, and Dysfunction,” PhD and Early-career Symposium at the University of Manchester.

November 2019. “Doing it right: conceptions and material arrangements of honesty and compliance in e-waste recycling.” Chaired by Amita Baviskar. At the seminar series of the Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi, India.


ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow
Julia Perczel

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