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Engineering modernity: the provision of water for Tangier 1840 - 1956

Viehoff, V.A.; (2009) Engineering modernity: the provision of water for Tangier 1840 - 1956. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The problem of urban water supply is not a recent phenomenon, but its character has altered dramatically since the nineteenth century. This thesis explores the history of urban water supply in Tangier, Morocco, concentrating on the period from 1840 to 1956. Focusing on specific contested issues and turning points in the history of Tangier’s water supply system, the relationship between urban infrastructure systems, differing conceptions of modernity, economic developments, and the exertion of colonial power are examined. Despite resistance against a marketisation of the system a private concession for Tangier’s water supply was granted in 1918, facilitated by a new balance of power with the implementation of the French Protectorate in 1912. The concession for Tangier’s water supply was repurchased by the municipality in 1949 and outsourced again to a private supplier in 2001. The research details how different ideas of what living in a modern city comprises were negotiated in the international setting of Tangier and how the development of Tangier’s modern water supply system was closely linked to the spread of new ideals of the modern city and the emergence of a nascent public sphere. The thesis shows that, while public debate kept the issue of Tangier’s urban water supply on the agenda, public interests were effectively overruled by economic and political considerations due to the weakness of the institutional settings of the public sphere. We find that the persistently uneven access to household water connections not only caused health and hygiene risks, but was also perceived by the poor as a de facto exclusion from an essential element of what constitutes citadinité or the rights of the city-dwelling citizen. Official documents from archives in Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and non-governmental sources such as newspapers and other publications are used to investigate the “engineering of modernity” in Tangier. Drawing on different fields such as historical geography, urban political ecology and postcolonial studies the research problematises tendencies to deal with cities in the global South only from a teleological or “developmentalist” approach derived from the history of modern cities in Europe and North America.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Engineering modernity: the provision of water for Tangier 1840 - 1956
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Geography

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