Tankers, wells, pipes and pumps: Agents and mediators of water geographies in Amman, Jordan

Daanish Mustafa
Department of Geography, King’s College, London, UK; daanish.mustafa@kcl.ac.uk

Samer Talozi
Department of Civil Engineering, Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST), Irbid, Jordan; samerbse@just.edu.jo

ABSTRACT: Water tankers and private wells along with the municipal piped water system have become an important feature of the techno-social assemblage of water supply in Amman, Jordan. The article takes a theoretically hybrid approach aimed at generating a conversation between actor-network theory (ANT) and the critical-realist and political-economic approaches. We undertake both ANT-inspired and then social-structural analysis of the geography of access to water in Amman. The ANT-based analysis of 'things' like tankers, wells, pipes and pumps draws attention to their relational agency in enabling or constraining access to water. The structural analyses remind us of the enduring class-, gender- and geopolitically based power relations that provide the context for the technologies, or things, to work. The key argument is that ANT is useful as a meso-level framework, which may enrich structuralist narratives on geographies of access to water. Specifically, in the case of Amman, Jordan, the inequitable access to water is linked to the history of the Jordanian state, its security imperatives and the technologies that are pressed into service to manage water.

KEYWORDS: Actor-Network Theory (ANT), Critical Realism, water tankers, private wells, Amman, Jordan