Cynthia Morinville

Study program:
Current affiliation:
University of Toronto

Cynthia Morinville (geography, University of Toronto) is exploring the lived experiences of informal workers in the global South who extract rare metals from discarded electronic waste. Her research uses documentary filmmaking and photography to tell the e-waste story in a new way.

Doctoral research

Mining the Waste Stream: Agency, Representation and the Persistence of Electronic Waste

E-waste is the fastest growing stream of waste. An estimated 20 to 50 million tons of electronics are discarded globally every year. Cynthia’s research seeks to shed light on the ways in which rare metals embedded deep within our electronics are valued, extracted, and returned to markets. It focuses primarily on the perspective of informal workers closely interacting with e-waste in different sites along the e-waste chain. Using ethnographic methods, documentary filmmaking, and photography, Cynthia engages notions of agency, representation, and justice to offer alternative narratives around the global e-waste crisis. By providing overlooked local perspectives on dismantling and resource recovery activities, Cynthia’s research aims to contribute to current reform efforts.

Cynthia is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. Her research interests centre on questions of agency, equality, and social justice, and their intersection with natural resource management.

Prior to joining the University of Toronto, Cynthia obtained a master’s degree in resource management and environmental studies from the University of British Columbia, where her research looked at the politics of water access and participatory governance in urban informal settlements in Accra, Ghana. Cynthia also holds a certificate in communications and media studies from the Université du Québec à Montréal, as well as an undergraduate degree in international and environmental studies from York University.

Cynthia has several years of professional experience with environmental nongovernmental organizations, where her work has mostly focused on communication, engagement, and policy. Her experience involves the management of an online interactive platform, social media communications, campaign design, and strategic planning.

Cynthia also has a long history of engaging with the communities where she lives and works. Through her community, activist, and volunteer work, she strives for social change locally and globally and continues to develop the skills necessary for applying the knowledge and critical lens she gained through her studies to environmental and social justice issues.

  • October 7, 2019
    The first Monday of October marks World Habitat Day. The focus this year is about promoting the contribution of innovative frontier technologies to sustainable waste management in order to achieve more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.