Every year, capitalism produces tons of goods that go right to waste. Mining, deforestation, social inequalities, racism, extractivism, and hyper-consumption add to this fantastic amount of waste. How is their disappearance and invisibility organized? Who cleans the world? Upon whose bodies rests bourgeois and white cleanliness?
Making the World Clean looks at the masses who daily clean the world to make it livable and comfortable for a few. That comfort rests on the exhaustion of non-white bodies and their exposition to dangerous chemical and premature death. Who cleans the world is thus a political question, with an anti-patriarchal, antiracist, and anti-capitalist frame. To explore this, Francoise Verges looks at the notion of cleanliness of white bodies and the cleanliness of cities in which they live and of the planet they wish to inhabit, stressing the naturalization and invisibilization of cheap labor. Racial capitalism produces waste, waste is the measure of its potency, and greening waste hides the fact that colonizing the planet and thus transforming life into waste is essential. Against this politics of wasted lives and wasted lands, Verges opposes the politics of antiracist and anti-capitalist cleaning, looking at works and actions of activists throughout the world.
Françoise Vergès is a Paris-based political scientist, activist in the global anti-racist struggle, historian, film producer, public educator, and the Chair of Global South(s) (Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris). She is the author of several books about slavery, colonialism, imperialism, decolonial feminism, and new politics of dispossession and racialization.