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The Energy of Revolts in Arab Cities: The Case of Jordan and Tunisia

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Energy has become a new urban public issue in Arab cities and, hence, the trigger for new claims, mobilizations, and even revolts or riots. This article proposes another approach to 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 symbolic and economic means. But the neoliberal turn in electricity policies, coupled with fossil fuel price 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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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2014

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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