University of Wisconsin–Madison

Mohammed Rafi Arefin

Graduate student (Ph.D.)


M.A., Geography, University of Arizona, 2013.

B.A., Development Studies, UC Berkeley, 2011.

Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) Certificate, American University in Cairo, 2016.

Research Areas

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

Current Research

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.

Courses Taught

Teaching Assistant, Introduction to the City (GEOG305), Fall 2017, UW-Madison. 

Lecturer, Introduction to Human Geography (GEOG101), Summer 2017, UW-Madison.

Teaching Assistant, Introduction to International Studies (IS101), Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, UW-Madison. 

Teaching Assistant, Population Geography, Spring 2012, University of Arizona.

Teaching Assistant, Urban Geography, Fall 2011, University of Arizona.


The American Association of Geographers.

The Center for Culture, History, and Environment.

Recent Publications

Undisciplining enviromental justice reseach with visual storytelling, Geoforum 2017, with Sarah Moore, Robert Roth, Heather Rosenfeld, Eric Nost, Kristen Vincent, Tanya Buckingham.

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

Olmstead Award for Teaching, Department of Geography, UW-Madison, 2017.


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, 2015, 2016, 2017.


Trewartha Travel Grant, Department of Geography, UW-Madison, 2013, 2015, 2017.


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

Mailing Address:

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


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