Ou est L'histoire de le chiffonnier?
April 1, 2010 9:10 PM   Subscribe

London had its mudlarks, toshers, & grubbers. What other (non-British) examples of historical urban scavengers are there?

Did such semi-formalized occupations exist in, say, Paris, Berlin, Rome? What were they called and what might there exist in regards to literature describing them, their occupation, and any peculiarities regarding their locales?
posted by Chrischris to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it's not "urban" necessarily, but wreckers (people who scavenge shipwrecks, sometimes by purposefully causing them) have a long and storied history in various parts of the world.
posted by amyms at 9:14 PM on April 1, 2010

Gleaners were more urban than you'd think.
posted by jessamyn at 9:17 PM on April 1, 2010

Would so-called "mole people" qualify under your definition?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:33 PM on April 1, 2010

Freegans? They scavenge dumpsters, mostly.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:45 PM on April 1, 2010

The Gleaners & I by Agnes Varda is an excellent documentary on the subject.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:45 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Applicable Italian terms might be straccivendoli, or patarini (although the latter is also used to describe a high medieval religious reforming movement (the name being used by those who sought to denigrate the reformers as mere 'ragpickers')).
posted by hydatius at 4:39 AM on April 2, 2010

Gomi is Japanese for rubbish. It also can describe art created from rubbish. I would guess that there is a specific name for a gomi artist/scavenger in that language.
posted by Splunge at 4:50 AM on April 2, 2010

Cartoneros (link is in Spanish) collect cardboard and other recyclables from the streets of Buenos Aires every night.

More info here.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:32 AM on April 2, 2010

Also a couple of NYT articles on garbage scavengers, one in the Phillipines, and one in China. I realize these are contemporary, rather than historical, examples, but I hope they are still helpful.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 3:59 PM on April 2, 2010

« Older "Research" for a "book"...   |   Suggestions for temp internet access in Japan Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.