Politics & Political Theory

Plastic monsters: Abjection, worms, the Cthulhic, and the black single-use plastic bag

The single-use plastic bag is the most legislated item of plastic in the world, banned in over 92 countries. The bans are largely concentrated in Africa and the Caribbean, where the plastic bags are often black and the plastic footprints small. The bans have destabilised essential economic, social, and technical arrangements of marginalised communities reliant on plastic engagements and adaptations to improvise against multiple, overlapping, incursive forms of violence. This article seeks to understand the spatial and material nature of these legislative actions and the particular item of single-use plastic they target. Acknowledging the (spatialised) material realities of the single-use plastic bag, this article argues that these bans are a legislative response to the black plastic bag as spatialised, racialised, sexualised, abject Other. Drawing from monster theory, the article reflects on the trans-corporeal body burdening of black plastic bags and the black hands, black bodies, black markets, and black, corrupt, illicit actions with whom and which they are associated. Reconceptualising the (black) single-use plastic bag as an agape, plastic monster that defines, patrols, and transgresses cultural/economic boundaries, this article calls for making explicit the vermicular activities within economic marginalisation and distinguishing them from the discursively constructed amorphous, tentacled mass.

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Volume 41 Issue 3

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