Beyond the wall: Dyking as an object of everyday governance in the Bay of Manila, Philippines
Considering the visibility of infrastructural projects as a means of coastal protection against urban sea level change, this paper draws attention to dyking as both a form of ‘defense’ and as a means of ‘dwelling’ or living with/from water. By tracing the emergence of a recent donor-funded polder dyke in Metro Manila (Philippines), the paper focuses on the infrastructural politics of coastal protection in a delta megacity, often technocratically framed as a global disaster capital. It illustrates how, as a socio-technological object, a dyke might serve as a distinct mode of governing everyday life along high density urban coastlines. Combining insights from Evolutionary Governance Theory (EGT) and infrastructural anthropology, the paper traces the materialization of the dyke as an evolving ‘living’ infrastructure, placing it against a broader canvas of urban transformations encompassing contestations around disaster risk reduction, land use, uneven livelihood access, tenurial rights, and neoliberal aesthetics. As a means of transcending the defense/dwelling binary, a typology of four interrelated frames are presented with which to trace localised meanings and practices of dyking as a mode of everyday governance, namely as: a) a line of defence for protective living; b) urban spectacle; c) a buffer zone or marker for land acquisition and; d) a fluid borderland, which at times ruptures the very material fixities and aqua-terrestrial distinctions upon which hard engineering infrastructural solutions are often premised.
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