Kessie Alexandre

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Princeton U.

Grant number

Gr. 9512

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Alexandre, Kessie, Princeton U., Princeton, NJ - To aid research on 'Fountains and Floods: Water Insecurity and the Politics of Decay in Newark,' supervised by Dr. Joao Biehl

Across the United States, cities are facing the immediate challenges of aging and inadequate water systems as a result of decades of public underinvestment. The state of American decaying water infrastructures introduce a number of water insecurities to the country’s oldest cities, causing severe disruptions, compounding fragilities in environmental systems, and exposing humans to sewage and toxic chemicals. This project examines infrastructural decay, water contamination, and urban revitalization as it is socially experienced and politically mobilized in the city of Newark, NJ. It follows residents, scientists, and technocrats in their efforts to mitigate human exposure to chemicals and sewage resulting from failing pipelines, pumps, and treatment plants and considers how infrastructural redevelopment is implicated in broader projects of urban revitalization and community development. In examining the phenomena of postindustrial water insecurity, I aim to highlight a fractured geography of urban disinvestment, care through environmental stewardship, and self-provisioning arising from the current state of American urban water infrastructures. I examine collective mobilization and practices of place-making by people who have experienced toxic exposure and infrastructural decay in the city. Finally, in attending to bodily risk and exposure, I aim to yield new insights on the embodied experience of infrastructures at different points and forms of functionality and the multiplicity of relationships between the body, the state, and the cityscape that are illuminated by infrastructural decay and current trends in water governance.