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Sage Publications

Article by Wallsten, Björn

This article investigates “urks”, i.e., disconnected parts of urban infrastructure that remain in their subsurface location. The reason for engaging in this topic is resource scarcity concerns, as urks contain large amounts of copper and aluminum that could be “mined” for the benefit of the environment.

Our starting point is that there is a certain non–stagnant capacity of waste–like entities such as urks and that their resistance to categorization is crucial to encapsulate their political potential (cf. Hawkins, 2006; Moore, 2012; Hird, 2013). We investigate how this indeterminate capacity has implications in terms of where future trajectories for urk recovery are conceivable.

The study is based on interviews with respondents from the infrastructure and waste sectors in Sweden. By stressing the relationship between urks and their geo–social subsurface surroundings, we use the respondents’ exploratory interpretations of urks to outline a spectrum of issues that should be further discussed for urks to become a matter of concern. The negotiation of these issues, we suggest, can be conceived of as a form of navigation along the perceived fault lines between actors and priorities, and they must be resolved for increased urk recovery to occur.

Research Area:
Deep Earth