The Sisyphean cycle of inequitable state production: State, space, and a drainage project in Pakistan

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jats:p This paper examines the cycle of a hydraulic infrastructure producing an unequal state, using space, every flood year, for what seems like perpetuity. Instead of theorising “elite capture” of the state, as a significant factor in producing inequality in postcolonial states the argument being advanced here is purposefully different. It argues that in carefully re-distributing flood risk, socio-technical interventions use space to (re) produce an unequal state effect at various scales. Thus, hydraulic infrastructures produce “dominant” and “peripheral” space, every flood year, continuing Sisyphean cycles of unequal state production. Drawing on evidence from the southern province of Sindh, in Pakistan, this paper examines a drainage project as a technique of government through which the state continues its production of inequality using “dominant” and “peripheral” space. These spaces of privilege and marginality—at a municipal, provincial, national and beyond level—are produced by the state and are then also complicit in producing the state. The argument in this paper demonstrates that in being subjected to previous productions of space, and the materialities of past interventions, while producing new ones, the production of state power in the postcolony is also scripted by broader unequal histories of power. </jats:p>

State effect, water infrastructure, disaster, space, Pakistan, LBOD
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Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space
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SAGE Publications