Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of California / Los Angeles

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Geography, University of California / Los Angeles
Fragile Architectures of the Anthropocene: Urban Construction and Environmental Regulation in Dakar

Across Africa and around the world, news reports mentioning "construction booms" are ubiquitous. In addition to its heralded role in urban development and employment, however, the construction sector is the largest consumer of natural materials in the world, including sand, water, and energy-intensive cement. The sand extraction industry has been understudied in its environmental impact, its role in the construction sector, and the effectiveness of bans and regulation of a lucrative industry tied to booming urban growth. As in other countries where coastal sand extraction has become a major concern, the practice has been banned for over ten years in Senegal; and as in other countries, these regulations are widely known to be ignored and unenforced. My research is fundamentally concerned with how and why environmental regulations often fail to be enforced, focusing on the extraction of sand for concrete production in Senegal as a particular case study. Using a qualitative and ethnographic methodology, I will investigate the failures and latent functions of environmental regulation, posing questions about officials' engagement with those who evade regulations, the effects of new laws regulating coastal development, and the production of environmental subjects. I draw on work suggesting that, far from simple incompetence, under-staffing, or the institutionalization of corruption, regulations may serve other purposes, I hypothesize that environmental regulations and their (non-)enforcement produce new kinds of relationships between citizens, the state, and private interests.