Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationTexas, Austin, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10040
Approve DateAugust 26, 2020
Project TitleYousfi, Kenza (Texas, Austin, U. of) "Along the Conveyor Belt: Phosphates Extraction, Walls, and Infrastructure in the Western Sahara"
This research explores an extractive assemblage of vital phosphates infrastructure and a militarized wall in the Western Sahara. I ask: what are the relationships between phosphate extraction, the wall, and national liberation? By investigating the wall as but one part of a complex network of infrastructures and interests that ties violence in Western Sahara to larger debates about food security and climate, I bring to the forefront the living conditions, labour practices, and movements of the people who are the subjects of the Moroccan-Saharawi conflict. Saharawis live, labor, and move in this extractive assemblage made of three intimately linked sites: the mining site, the port, and the conveyor belt. They make the hyper-visible infrastructure a topic of everyday conversation and a site of everyday hangout. They also constitute its primary labor force: mining, repairing, loading, processing, etc., all work that exposes them to the toxicity of phosphates. Through ethnography, this project offers a timely exploration that reframes a space that has been addressed only in discussions of rights and politics in North Africa and beyond. I expand discussions of infrastructures, resource frontiers, territory and walls to attend to the often-complex imbrications of built environments, situated conflict, and global political economies.