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Designing Reflexive Spaces with Human Waste: Communities of Resourcefulness in Brussels, Berlin, and Hong Kong

Authors: Markus Wernli;

Designing Reflexive Spaces with Human Waste: Communities of Resourcefulness in Brussels, Berlin, and Hong Kong

Abstract

This paper compares eco-sanitation interventions in Hong Kong, Berlin, and Brussels by applying a structurally extended SWOT matrix for evaluating their transformative relations and capabilities in their respective contexts. The enablers and barriers underlying these human waste cycling communities are assessed by combining qualitative-quantitative data collection and multiform analysis. By complementing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis with the emergent framework of Ideas-Arrangement-Effects (I-A-T), the study assesses the explorative potential manifested in these cases. The eco-toilet communities address unsustainable food systems by acting in concert with people, places, and microbes in a profoundly self-implicating process that stems from an oscillation between actionable immersion and perspectival detachment. This dynamic creates a reflexive conduit for counter-intuitive doing and thinking that diversifies dominant and hegemonic perspectives. The three cases demonstrate how cultivating a rich, interactive context on the physical, social, and psychological levels is conducive to the suspense and exchange of positions and a plurality of perspectives on the world, both human and nonhuman. Community acceptance and individual satisfaction with urban eco-toilets stems from balancing this unsettling repositioning with supportive involvement, whereas disrupting bathroom routines, group debates, and agroecological experimentation makes people act in better-attuned relations with unknowable otherness.

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