A New Nile: The 1902 Aswan dam and the remaking of the Nile River

Jennifer Derr
UC Santa Cruz

A New Nile explores the history of the 1902 Aswan dam, known locally as khazān Aswan, through the imaginaries and material trajectories of the Nile River, and the nature of human relationships with the agricultural environments that lined its banks. A New Nile begins in the early nineteenth century with the consolidation of the Ottoman-Egyptian state and the coalescence of civil engineering as a distinct field of expertise. It then traces the significance of the dam’s construction for irrigation engineers, colonial capitalists, displaced communities, and Egyptian cultivator-laborers. One impact of the dam was an increase in the prevalence of environmental diseases, including bilharzia. The final two chapters of the manuscript explore the manner in which newly constructed agricultural environments framed encounters with the colonial state that constructed this piece of infrastructure and the quasi-independent Egyptian state that formed in the 1920s.