Lisa Jöris – Environment and Justice

Urban infrastructure in pre-2011 Aleppo. Civil agency and state-power dynamics between water provision and waste disposal

Lisa Jöris

This research project engages with civil agency in the context of networks of urban infrastructure in the city of Aleppo before the Syrian revolution in 2011/2012. By discussing the ways in which the city dwellers perceived, navigated and managed access to water and structures of waste disposal in their everyday lives, it asks about people’s daily encounters with the state through their access to, and use of, urban infrastructural systems and thus contributes to the study of everyday life and civil agency in authoritarian-ruled states on a broader level.

On the one hand, infrastructural provision generally was considered a responsibility of the state in Syria. On the other hand, tracing the journey of the water and the waste, my analysis shows how governmental institutions in Aleppo did not always make it a priority to develop functioning infrastructural systems of water provision. Rather, the individual households were left with assuming this responsibility themselves. It is the aim of my study to assess the agency and the room for maneuver that opened up for the city’s residents in this constellation as well as its limitations.

This research project is part of the joint project "Normality and Crisis: Memories of Everyday Life in Syria as a Chance for a New Start in Germany".