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The energy of revolts in Arab cities. The case of Jordan and Tunisia



Type:   Article
Titre:   The energy of revolts in Arab cities. The case of Jordan and Tunisia
Auteur(s):   Verdeil, Eric - Centre de recherches internationales (Auteur)
In:   Built Environment
Date de publication:   2014
Éditeur:   Alexandrine Press
Pages:   128-139  p.
ISSN:   02637960
Mots-clés:   [en] electricity, urban metabolism, urban protest, neoliberalism, basic infrastructure, Tunisia, Jordan, Arab world, Energy
Résumé:   [en] Energy has become a new urban public issue in Arab cities and, hence, the trigger of new claims, mobilizations, and even revolts or riots. This article proposes another approach of energy politics. In my view, a set of transformations in energy circuits are directly involved in the 'urbanization' of energy issues. By such a phrase, I mean different processes that reframe and rescale energy issues, usually national and international ones, at the level of the city. Energy reliability and affordability are new claims in the political arena in many Arab cities. Based on earlier research in Tunisia and Jordan, the article examines how policies of electrification in Arab cities have created a new metabolism associated with new power relations, specifically enhancing State legitimacy through symbolical and economical means. But the neoliberal turn in electricity policies, coupled with fossil fuel prices pressures, is undoing this pact. Claims for affordable prices and effective power supply have been fostered in the context of the current uprisings. Grid-embedded resistance practices by ordinary people (customers or workers), which are analyzed in this article, put new light on the vulnerability of urban electricity circuits.

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