Kenza Yousfi

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Texas, Austin, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10040

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Yousfi, 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.