Finding an “Ultimate Truth”: Uncovering Moral Economies on Waste-to-Energy Incineration in Baltimore



Washington, Tanisha

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This thesis adds to the anthropological literature of morality as it seeks to understand the innerworkings of the moral economy of waste-to-energy incineration in Baltimore. The objective of this thesis is to ascertain the mechanisms that perpetuate this injustice which is completed by employing a moral-economic framework that extrapolates stakeholder priorities in three levels of analysis including the State regulation of waste incineration, the varying stakeholder groups and their moral inclinations of the market, and the agency expressed by nonprofit workers organizing around environmental issues in these contexts. Findings reveal that the State's validity of waste-to-energy incineration as a viable source of renewable energy morally legitimizes the negative health outcomes and ecological degradation incurred in the market. However, this contingency is being challenged by nonprofit workers who morally prioritize the amplification of the collective needs of the community as defined by the residents themselves.



Moral economy, Agency, Morality, Ethics