Death’s Capital: Urban Poor Political Ecology and the Aesthetics of Salvaging by the Nightcrawlers of Manila

Jose Kervin Cesar B. CALABIAS*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review


Through an ecocritical analysis of the practice of photography by the Nightcrawlers of Manila, this chapter describes an urban poor political ecology under Duterte’s Oplan Tokhang that ensues along with his government’s other urban spatial policies/strategies of containing, excluding, and expelling the urban poor that have made them more vulnerable as targets of the drug war and its documentation. This violent urban metabolism has rendered/(pre)disposed the body of the urban poor into “waste/garbage,” the material-discursive products cities are known for, and where the Nightcrawlers inevitably transform their “stylized” deaths into images of the abject aesthetic of salvaging. Salvaging signifies not just the manner of killing but the interrelated livelihoods of the urban poor subject and the photographer, placing “death” as the precondition of urban living and the center of photographic practice in the Age of the Necrocene.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironment, Media, and Popular Culture in Southeast Asia
EditorsJason Paolo TELLES, John Charles RYAN, Jeconiah Louis DREISBACH
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9789811911309
ISBN (Print)9789811911293
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameAsia in Transition
ISSN (Print)2364-8252
ISSN (Electronic)2364-8260

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.


  • Oplan Tokhang
  • Urban political ecology
  • Necrocene
  • Ecocriticism
  • Nightcrawlers of Manila
  • Photography


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