Wamakhair project

WAMAKHAIR Project (ANR-DFG, 2008-2012)

The objectives of the project was to (1) describe the system of water distribution in the metropolitan area of Khartoum, to (2) analyse differences in the access to water in terms of social and spatial differentiation, and to (3) interpret socio-spatial transformations of urban water management in relation to current changes. The project built on the hypothesis that in this sense water flows can be seen as an expression of power and change in contemporary urban societies. The key question was how the present regulatory system reflects transformational processes within the urban society and its fragments, i.e. competition, differentiation and exclusion on the one hand, and cohesion and inclusion on the other. The second hypothesis of the project argued that these partly contradictory processes can be observed in spatial patterns and growing disparities. On this basis the project focused on five case study areas that represent different forms of livelihood and settlement, i.e. an upper class area with high water consumption, a middle class neighbourhood with increasing water scarcity, a squatter settlement with highly vulnerable inhabitants, a peri-urban peasant settlement and an industrial area. The case studies has been compared with respect to the practice of water use, the local perception of and the discourse about water, the mechanisms of water distribution on different levels of the distributive system, and the strategies different social groups within the urban society develop to negotiate their needs and interests. The third hypothesis of the project put the case of Khartoum into a larger context of interpretation. It argued that local processes reflect both the global influences of economic liberalization and legitimatory discourses on the basis of Islam. Finally, the Franco-German research team intended to use this cooperative project for an enhancement and intensification of theory production in human geography, looking for alternatives away from present mainstream debates under Anglo-Saxon domination.

Coordinators and main partner institutions : David Blanchon (Université de Nanterre),  Barbara Casciarri (CEDEJ Khartoum, Université Paris 8), Detlef Mueller-Mahnn (Bayreuth University).

Other partnerships: Samawal El-Makk (Ahfad University of Women) and Olivier Graefe (Fribourg University).


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