Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures, University of Virginia

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Texas / Austin
Cairo Ecologies: Water in Social and Material Cycles

In poor urban communities of Egypt, water is a profound indicator of how people establish living patterns in their neighborhoods, and of how residents deal with representatives of state institutions on a day to day basis in their search for basic necessities. This research project will study the social and material cycles of water in Izbit Kherallah, a small squatter settlement in Cairo. It will map the richness of daily life as the residents of Izbit Kherallah interact as relatives, neighbors and acquaintances to find sources of potable water and deal with the ramifications of sewage in their urban ecology. The central intellectual groundings in which this project is based are: the rereading of social life to include non-human factors, such as water; the investigation into local processes of political engagement beyond the arena of the state and civil society; and the role of the family and household in Cairo for obtaining and distributing basic resources and managing the social and health impacts of waste water in the urban ecology at the daily level. The knowledge gained from this research project will contribute to a better understanding of the interrelationships among biological, social, and infrastructural systems in the continually expanding urban world of Egypt and the Global South. Additionally, this research will contribute to the emerging study of water sustainability in social science and enhance greater cross-cultural appreciation for and understanding of the variety of ways in which people think about, manage and utilize water.