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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

Garbage, Music, and Environmental Sustainability in Contemporary Taiwan


Prof. Dr. Nancy Guy (University of California, San Diego)

Date and Time

May 05, 2022, 4:15 - 6 pm


This talk focuses on references to garbage and its pickup heard in popular music from the 1980s through the 2020s. These pieces demonstrate some of the ways in which everyday practices aimed at managing household waste have seeped into a wide range of sensibilities. It will be argued that a pervasive awareness in Taiwan of garbage and its collection has contributed to a marked cognizance of environmental protection. The immediate physicality and musicality of Taiwan's garbage collection routine works to keep the long emergency of waste disposal in the public's imagination. The evereyday engagement with waste, including aurally through garbage truck music, is no doubt partly responsible for Taiwan's success at reducing household waste and for it being heralded by the New York Times as "an island of green in Asia" and for the Wall Street Journal declaring Taiwanese the "world's geniuses of garbage disposal."


University of Zurich, Institute of Asian Oriental Studies, Room ZUB 314, Zürichbergstrasse 4, 8032 Zürich


Institute of Asian Oriental Studies - Chinese Studies