2019 - Reclaiming the desert : recomposition of agricultural actors and territories in Egypt - Delphine Acloque
This research investigates the process of land reclamation in the Egyptian desert over the past sixty years.
The agricultural frontier, moving into increasingly constraining drylands, is analysed from the perspective of the actors, their power relations and how they contribute to the recomposition of Egyptian agriculture and its territories. While desert lands have seen the construction, consolidation and expansion of a new agricultural sector dominated by a narrow entrepreneurial elite, they are shaped by a broader set of interests. They constitute a stock of land and water ressources, as well as opportunities for a diversity of actors: political, economic and institutional, public and private, productive and non-productive. Since the 1950s, various stakeholders have indeed projected themselves onto desert lands in pursuit of many objectives, whether to legitimize their position, increase their power, accumulate capital, or, in the case of the most economically and socially fragile, simply to support and feed their families. This work thus shows how marginal desert areas are at the heart of processes of projection, appropriation and negotiation. This thesis, based on about 80 interviews and surveys conducted mainly in the margins of the Nile Delta (2012-15), is part of three research areas in geography: frontier dynamics and territorialisation; the contemporary renewal of agricultural stakeholders and the development of a new agro-capitalism; power relations for resource allocation.
Keywords : Land Reclamation ; new rural territories ; Agribusiness ; Small holders