Forum 2016 - Infrastructure Space - Detroit (Ruby Press)
123 122 twenty percent of the Egyptian po- pulation, to alleviate pressure on the country’s crowded cities. As a public project of unprecedented scale that entails a slow pace of construction, it relies on development aid from several countries and organizations as well as on private investors. Presented as Mu- barak’s all-in-one solution for Egypt’s urban density, food insecurity, and unemployment issues, this is a massive project involving complex arrange- ments of foreign investments both in terms of finance and knowledge, but one that experts claim has so far failed to deliver. High saline levels mean that the volume of available fresh water is less than expected, employment opportunities are limited, the anticipa- ted housing and infrastructure have yet to materialize, and ultimately, food production at Toshka is concentrated on profitable export crops for foreign companies rather than on food for domestic consumption, breaking the initial promise to facilitate local agricul- tural production and, with it, national food security. The shaping of Egypt’s agricultural system has meant the rearrangement of its territory and population through the ordering and managing of earth and water; namely, biopolitics as inf- rastructure. Fueled by a constructed image of Egypt as a country on the brink of starvation with scarce agrarian land and explosive demographics, a claim denounced by Timothy Mitchell in Rule of Experts , Egyptian political forces have engaged in undertaking gigantic projects against the back- drop of a historical legacy of water infrastructures. Under the cover of attempts at achieving food security, large-scale modern projects such as the one at Toshka have proved an essential element of Egyptian politics. The control over water, land topogra- Fig. 6: Construction site of the Sheik Zayed Canal at Toshka, Egypt, 2010 Fed by Lake Nasser water via the Mubarak Pumping Station, the Sheik Zayed Canal is only partially completed and sustains agricultural activity in constricted fields on land that was previously desert. Fig. 5: One of the largest manmade lakes in the world, the Lake Nasser reservoir was created by the construction of the High Aswan Dam, completed in 1971. phy, population, and agricultural and food production revealed by the inf- rastructural chronicle of the Nile is a recurrent story of power struggles over territory, people, and resources. Egypt is thus a paradigmatic case of the con- temporary deployment of biopolitics, and the ensuing spatial consequences on territories, such as at Toshka, are acutely visible. 11 A previous and modified version of this text has been published as “The Toshka Project: Colossal Water Infrastructures, Biopolitics and Territory in Egypt,” in Architectural Design 86, no. 4 (2016). 1. Extract from Gamal Abdel Nasser’s speech on the occasion of the diversion of the Nile River. Gamal Abdel Nasser, “The Address by President Gamal Abdel Nasser at Aswan Celebrating the High Dam Attended by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev,” nasser.org , May 14, 1964, http://www.nasser.org/Speeches/browser. aspx?SID=1084&lang=en. 2. Jeroen Warner, “The Toshka Mirage in the Egyptian Desert: River Diversion as Poli- tical Diversion,” Environmental Science & Policy 30 (2013): 102–12. 3. See Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1975–1976 , ed. Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fontana, trans. David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003). 4. The feddan is a unit of area used in Egypt, Sudan, and Syria. 1 feddan = 60 x 70 meters = 4,200 square meters = 0.42 hectares = 1.038 acres. 5. Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 35. 6. See the exhibition catalogue, Pascal Cos- te:, Toutes les Égypte (Marseille: Éditions Parenthèses, 1998), 40. 7. A. B. Zahlan “Established Patterns of Technology Acquisition in the Arab World,” in Technology Transfer and Change in the Arab World: The Proceedings of a Seminar of the United Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia , ed. A. B. Zahlan and Rosemarie Said Zahlan (Ox- ford: Pergamon Press, 1978), 1–28. 8. Diana K. Davis, Edmund Burke, and Timo- thy Mitchell, Environmental Imaginaries of the Middle East and North Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2011), 6. 9. M. M. Sayed and M. M. Kamal, “Flood Evaluation and Management after the High Dam Reservoir,” in Dams and Rservoirs, Societies and Environment in the 21st Century , ed. L. Berga et al, (London: Tay- lor & Francis, 2006), 47–52. 10. Robert O. Collins, “Negotiations and Exploitation of the Nile Waters at the End of the Millennium,” Water International 31, no. 1 (2006): 116–26. 11. Bradley Hope, “Egypt’s New Nile Valley: Grand Plan Gone Bad,” National , April 22, 2012, www.thenational.ae/news/world/ middle-east/egypts-new-nile-valley-grand- plan-gone-bad 12. See Mitchell, Rule of Experts , 209.