Adam Williams Portrait
Ph.D. 2014 • M.A. 2010
Human Geography

Areas of interest: China; Scrap Recycling; Migration; GIS
Faculty Advisor: Timothy Oakes


2010 - The Informal Recycler in Shanghai: Mobility, Migration and Citizenship

2014 - Excess and Access: Informal Recycling Networks and Participants in Shanghai, China

Research Interests

My research is currently based in Shanghai, where I lived for four years prior to enrolling at CU-Boulder. I study informal waste recyclers, who work as itinerant buyers and sorters of industrial scrap and household garbage. Waste recyclers are often rural migrants, yet their business integrates them into urban space in a variety of ways. Household waste is a valuable commodity in China, where recycling is significantly more thorough than the US. Waste recyclers are a prominent feature of street life in Chinese cities, and my research aims to better understand relationships of space and place by studying the role of these informal workers in urban society.