Mediating Political Subjectivities: Infrastructure, Mobility, and Social Action in Egypt’s Nile Delta
In her book project, Nada El-Kouny investigates how infrastructure is not only an avenue for the provision of services but is also the ground on which contestations over sovereignty are generated. The project examines how material infrastructures, like the building of roads, and social infrastructures of political organizing, coalesce in producing political subjectivities. Developing on ethnographic fieldwork and archival research conducted between 2012 and 2018 in Egypt, the project focuses on rural citizens who over the past four decades experienced the privatization of the economy and structural adjustment programs, pushing them out of a system of self-sufficiency and a majority-agricultural economy. Infrastructure, as material mediums that organize and facilitate societies, is the node through which the project investigates how politics are enacted, experienced, and contested. The project also expands on the notion of materiality more broadly, to address how social infrastructures are embodied channels through which citizens and communities organize themselves and attain infrastructural services from the state. A significant component of the project includes ethnographic fieldwork with labor migrants. The research focuses on the forms of return investments in the built environment of the migrants’ origin villages through their work primarily in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Italy. The research equally investigates how the sociopolitical subjectivities of these migrants are formulated due to their migration and how they manifest in their villages of origin.