Alaa Attiah Mitwaly

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Toronto, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10330

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Mitwaly, Alaa (Toronto, U. of) "Sinai Waterways: Warfare and Wayfarers"

This project seeks to investigate the ‘sovereignty’ of Sinai Bedouins vis-‘-vis the Egyptian state. It hypothesizes that specialist Bedouin knowledge of underground waterways exposes the fragility of the state’s sovereignty, not necessary in direct opposition, but rather bypassing, negotiating and diverting state power and economic control over Sinai Sea waterways (Red Sea, Mediterranean, and Suez canal). Despite the state’s attempts to marginalize and coopt the Bedouins, they possess a subaltern sovereignty in the form of unique access to and knowledge about underground waterways that enables them to survive and smuggle people and goods, living somewhat independently of state oversight. This access stems from their technical and embodied nomadic knowledge of the Sinai mountains. The Bedouins, as a political power, have always been in a dialectical relationship with the post-colonial state projects. This study further explores these relations, to ask: How is Bedouin sovereignty, which is based on the power to survive, lived in relation to state sovereignty, which is based on killability power? What kind of alterity is created beyond the nation state through this dialectical relationship? Indeed, this project is a reading of the post-colonial nation state and its multiple projects through its buried silences and alternate realities.