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Creole water supply: states, neoliberalism, and everyday practices in a secondary African city

Neves Alves, S; (2017) Creole water supply: states, neoliberalism, and everyday practices in a secondary African city. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis examines the evolution of water provision in Bafatá, Guinea-Bissau, between 2006 and 2014, including the role of state and non-state actors, policy models and everyday practices in shaping the city’s piped supply scheme. The overall aim is to use perspectives from a small African city to evaluate understandings of urban water infrastructure circulating in the fields of geography and urban studies. Based on ethnographic work in Guinea-Bissau involving 11 months of participant observation and 94 interviews with state officials, workers in international organisations and the city’s water operator, and water users, this thesis argues that the dominance of critiques of neoliberalism and the limited theorisations of the state prevailing in current analyses are key limitations for service provision in small cities in poorer contexts. To address these weaknesses, this thesis adopts an analytical framework that combines the concepts of ‘variegated neoliberalism’ and ‘assemblages’ with an attention to the ‘everyday’, in order to develop an understanding of a ‘creole’ mode of governance characterised by its intermixing of influences. In addition, it draws on anthropological explorations of the state that examine state practices and interactions with non-state actors without fixing these in pre-conceived analytical categories. This thesis shows that the state has shaped water provision in Bafatá not through following policy and regulatory frameworks, but through the decisions and practices of governmental officials and their interactions with nonstate organisations. It also demonstrates that development interventions have significantly influenced water provision in Bafatá. However, policy models circulating in the city have been routinely assembled with and reshaped by alternative logics, motivations and practices, and therefore transformed beyond their original agendas. Lastly, water provision is analysed from the perspective of everyday water practices, demonstrating the multiplicity of factors shaping access to water, including perceptions of quality of water, and the simultaneous disruption and continuity of ingrained sharing practices through the introduction of meters.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Creole water supply: states, neoliberalism, and everyday practices in a secondary African city
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1551647
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