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IAS Talking Points Seminar: Risky Measures: Assembling Iran’s Waterways in...

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IAS Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building

University College London

Gower Street

London

WC1E 6BT

United Kingdom

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For this IAS Talking Points Seminar we are pleased to welcome IAS Visiting Research Fellow Dr Katayoun Shafiee who will being giving this seminar on 'Assembling Iran’s Waterways in the Infrastructure of International Development in the Middle East'. We will also be joined by Dr William Carruthers (German Historical Institute in London) who will be a respondent for this seminar.

Abstract

Troubling images of dried out lakes and rivers reveal the devastation that has mobilized government and non-government officials alike to proclaim Iran’s water problems as constituting a national and natural disaster. Reformist politicians and environmentalists argue that the controversy is largely of Iran’s own making. But the origins of Iran’s current water crisis are linked to a longer genealogy of Iranian water practices involving large-scale, US-led projects of dam building, irrigation, and industrial agriculture also known as integrated river basin development.

This paper tracks how water is made into a resource for management in terms of the organizational activities involved in the political project to irrigate southwest Iran through the calculation of risk. The construction of energy systems such as around water have historically demanded specific regimes of risk assessment with consequences for the shape of the multinational corporation, the state, political community and nation, and possibilities for democracy. Unlocking the democratic future of Iran in the mid-20th century involved the political management of success and failure attached to the largest dam project in the region through the participation of the World Bank, mechanisms of debt and finance, consulting engineers, and soil scientists. I discuss the ways in which infrastructural technologies helped manage political uncertainties and unruly actors, transforming the countryside into a laboratory for gathering knowledge and novel techniques of governance over nature and society.

Speaker: Dr Katayoun Shafiee

Respondent: Dr William Carruthers (German Historical Institute in London)

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IAS Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building

University College London

Gower Street

London

WC1E 6BT

United Kingdom

View Map

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