Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, Vol 5, No 1 (2018)

Durable Remains: Glass Reuse, Material Citizenship and Precarity in EU-era Bulgaria

Elana Resnick
Issued Date: 4 Jun 2018

Abstract


Bulgarian Roma living in the capital city of Sofia rely on glass for EU-era survival becauseof its role in food-jarring practices and its ability to be repeatedly used and reused withoutbreaking down. The durability of glass emerges as a salient material quality for ensuringa means of preservation in the face of everyday economic precarity. Glass's durability ismaterial and temporal: temporal in that it transcends political and economic upheavals,and material in that, unlike plastic, metal and paper, glass does not naturally decomposeover time. Instead, it enables structurally disadvantaged urbanites, like the Roma, touse homegrown food packaging technologies in order to survive in the era of EU "free"markets, plastic packaging and neoliberal discardability. The temporal and materialdurability of glass juxtaposes the precarious circumstances of those most engagedwith its contemporary reuse for whom glass enables both survival and a form of EU-eramaterial citizenship. However, EU regulations focused on recycling fail to acknowledgethe widespread practice of glass reuse in Bulgaria. This paper analyzes how EU policy,recycling company officials and Romani and non-Romani Sofia residents reconfiguredurability through different temporal materialities - and practices - of recycling and reuse.

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DOI: 10.1558/jca.33425

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