Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis open access



First Advisor

Tahir Naqvi

Second Advisor

Sarah Beth Kaufman


International regulations have sought to curb illicit flows of electronic waste (e-waste) from Global North countries to Global South countries. At the same time, they provide a means for certified recyclers to imagine themselves as moral entrepreneurs with coherent industrial practices. Making the most value from discarded machines, however, is a process that requires careful attention to the indeterminate materiality of their supply. Used machines’ materiality is made indeterminate by the unpredictable amount of human wear on each machine. What this entails for the recycler is a process in negotiation with these unique conditions. Based on fieldwork and interviews with Euroamerican recyclers, brokers, auditors, and regulations staff, this thesis studies the moment a certified recycler decides how to process a discarded machine. It argues that the materiality of used electronics guides the production of ethical meanings and economic value.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License