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Mohammed Rafi Arefin

Graduate student (Ph.D.)

Photo of Mohammed Rafi  Arefin

Past Education

M.A., Geography, University of Arizona, 2013.
B.A., Development Studies, UC Berkeley, 2011.
Certificate in Intensive Arabic Studies, American University in Cairo, 2010

Research Areas

Geographies of Waste, Garbage and Discards; Urban Geography; Psychoanalytic Geography; Social Theory; Development Studies; Middle East.


My work, which sits at the intersection of urban geography, development studies, and psychoanalytic geography, is broadly concerned with waste. Using waste as a lens through which to investigate the production of urban space, hygienic subjects, and difference, I seek to understand the relationship between waste management and uneven urban development. In my Masters thesis "Cleaning the Homeland: From the Work of Revolutionaries to the Tactics of a New Regime," I examined the politics of waste management campaigns in Cairo, Egypt before, during, and after the revolutionary events of January 25, 2011. My dissertation will trace the historic and contemporary relationship between waste management and uneven urban development in Cairo from 1952 to the present. I am also engaged in other collaborative projects on waste including a project on popular representations of hoarding and a project on the North American hazardous waste trade.


- Teaching Assistant, Population Geography, Spring 2012, University of Arizona.
- Teaching Assistant, Urban Geography, Fall 2011, University of Arizona.


Online Publications

Abjection: A definition for discard studies, on Discard Studies, 2015.

Doing Environmental Studies During Times of Racialized Violence,
with Danya Al-Saleh, on Edge Effects, 2014.

The Dirty Details: A Response to "Tales of the Trash" on Edge Effects, 2014.

Taksim Is/Is Not Tahrir: Comparative Frameworks in Managing Protest, with Danya Al-Saleh on Jadaliya E-Zine, 2013.

Five Days of Anger: Revolt in the Modern Metropolis, with Danya Al-Saleh on the Polis Blog, 2011.

A Campus Where Expansion is First, with Danya Al-Saleh on the Polis Blog, 2010.

Awards and Honors

- Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) Fellow, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, 2015-2016
- Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, African Studies Program, UW-Madison, 2014.
- CHE Graduate Research Grant, Center for Culture, History and Environment, UW-Madison, 2014 and 2015.
- Trewartha Travel Grant, Department of Geography, UW-Madison, 2013 and 2015.
- NSF Graduate Research Fellowship 2012-2017.
- Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Arizona, 2012.
- Institute of International Studies Junior Scholars Grant, UC Berkeley, 2010.

Contact Information

Office: 550 Science Hall

Mailing Address:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Geography
550 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53706

Email: : marefin@wisc.edu

On Twitter: @mrafiarefin