« Ethnographies of water management in Tuti (Khartoum, Sudan) and Caño de Loro (Cartagena, Colombia). Comparing history, locality and politics in urban anthropology«
Under the supervision of Dr Barbara Casciarri
The thesis defense took place on Friday, November 27th, 2015 at 9 am at the University Paris 8, 2 rue de la Liberté, 93200, Saint Denis in the Hall of theses, Deleuze area (Building A, 1st floor).
The jury was composed of:
– AYEB Habib, Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University Paris 8
– Alain BERTHO, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Paris 8
– David BLANCHON, Professor of Geography at the University Paris Ouest-Nanterre.
– Barbara CASCIARRI, Lecturer in Anthropology at the University Paris 8 (supervisor)
– Eric DENIS, Geographer, Director of research at CNRS (rapporteur)
– Aline HEMOND, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Picardie Jules Verne (rapporteur)
– Mauro VAN AKEN, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Milano Bicocca
At the turn of the twentieth century, numerous cities such as Cartagena (Colombia) and Khartoum (Sudan), adopted a centralized technical and administrative model for the management of drinking water. Associated since its construction to planned urban development projects, the water network constitutes a political technology and becomes a landmark of urban spatiality, for politicians as well as for technicians and urban dwellers. The compared analysis of access strategies, daily usage, and the role of water in the imagination of two populations with an ambiguous urban status – Caño de Loro (Cartagena) and Tuti (Khartoum) – allows us to approach the social complexity of contemporary cities in the South. The comparison supposes a reflexive orientation that leads us, over and beyond the socio-political dynamics of each context, to critically consider our categories of analysis. In the first part the water network is contextualized in the history of each city, where its recent apparition and setting up rests upon the reinforcement or creation of dense power relations, as well as a new conception of nature, particularly of water. Such relational and political features lead to, in the second part, an understanding of how the materiality of water and its sharing produces particular localities within the urban space. Therefore, the analysis of relations between public and private spheres through everyday water exchanges lets us discuss the relevance of the notion of “collective management” of resources in Cartagena and Khartoum. The third part considers the mechanisms draw on by different actors within the particular context of urban planning to negotiate their margin of action on land and water. It highlights the political dimension of identity categories as well as the transformative power of individual and collective actions in situations where resource management is crossed with individual, local, national, and global logics at the same time.