Outhouses, Informal Housing, and Sewerage: An Environmental and Infrastructural Study of the Suez Canal Cities

The paper presented uses sewer/bathroom infrastructure and the urban built environment as a way into the social history of the towns along the Suez Canal. Port Sa’id, Isma’iliyya, and Suez had different zones of governance between the Suez Canal Company and the Egyptian State, as such, sovereignty over who had responsibility for public works projects was an issue debated upon, and added to the differentiation in infrastructural systems installed in the cities. This paper is a broader examination of the social history of these infrastructures and the various ways in which the company and Egyptian authorities/colonial administration provided or did not provide services to certain neighborhoods based on class and/or ethnicity. Further, the environment was seen as a space to be manipulated and disciplined, but frequently it set the terms for urban/infrastructural development.