City of Mud: wet transformations at the edge of Izmir
Paper short abstract:
My talk argues that conflicts about the muddy place of ecology at the edge of Izmir are embedded with imaginations about the materiality, of sediment: muddy hydraulic materiality is always in the making.
Paper long abstract:
The Gediz river delta, north of the city of Izmir, has in the past two decades been managed as a protected conservation wetlands. The area is also at the center of ongoing contestations about the remaking of land, water, and sediments at the edge of an expanding metropolis. Drawing from two years of ethnographic and archival fieldwork, my talk explores conflicts between environmental NGOs, local residents, the university and the state about sites of watery and muddy transformation. These have long been locales of production regimes — agricultural, urban, industrial, and cultural. In the talk I take conflicts about the very materiality of the delta, its dynamic muddy sediments — from wastewater to industrial outflow to the saline waters of the saltpans — to be revealing of contemporary ecological politics in Izmir and in Turkey. The politics, I content, is about more than the shifting boundaries of land and water, about what counts as coastline, river, wetland, canal, farmland, saltpan or road. While those topographies are always shifting, I argue that conflicts about the place of ecology in contemporary life is embedded with imaginations about the materiality, the hazards, the value, and the potential futures afforded by sediment. This talk takes muddy hydraulic materiality to be always in the making.
Muddy footsteps and hydrosocial futures: understanding relationality with, through and about water