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Architecture of Peacekeeping Missions Dutch Pavilion, giardini 28.05–27.11.2016

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Contents Foreword Guus Beumer 3

BLUE: The architecture of UN peacekeeping missions Malkit Shoshan 6 Curatorial Statement 6 A visit to the UN archive 6 The historical evolution of UN peace­keeping missions 7 From an Island to a Catalyst 8 Camp Castor 9 A field trip to Mali 9

BLUE: Accounts  Bandiagra: A Town on the Border of Azawad Peter Chilson 20  Cities in the Desert a conversation with Moussa Ag Assarid 23

 African Nomadic Architecture Impressions from Labelle Prussin 25

Circles Quotations of Aldo van Eyck 26 Brick The Dogon Foundation 27 The Knife Cuts Two Ways Rob de Vos 28 The road with no name Marion de Vos 29 New World Embassy: Azawad Moussa Ag Assarid and Jonas Staal 31

Age of Experimentation Marcel Rot 33 Shopping for the Surreal Travis Bunt 34 Among Soldiers Arnon Grunberg 36 Past Lives David Turnbull 38

BLUE Design for Legacy  Four Steps for Sharing Space Malkit Shoshan 40  Speculative financial and socio-economic model for evaluating and enhancing international peacekeeping missions Joel van der Beek 42 Designing for Legacy: an anthropological perspective Erella Grassiani 44

 Green Strategy for BLUE: Food and ecological security A through ‘Deeply Green Urban Agriculture’ Debra Solomon 45

Biographies 47 Colophon 48

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Blue: The Architecture of Peacekeeping Missions The Dutch submission to the 15th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale

The zeitgeist appears to be shifting again. Whereas for the last three years Dutch cultural policy has focused on the Creative Industries, now – shortly before the arrival of a new policy period – we increasingly encounter the term ‘urgent social issues’ as the guiding principle for cultural policy. Interestingly enough, this coincides with a classic plea for a free space for culture and experimentation. ‘Creative Industries’, ‘Urgent Issues’ and ‘Free Space’ are the new trinity against which the legitimacy of cultural institu­ tions and the (subsidized) public space of the cultural infrastructure must be demonstrated. At first sight this confluence of terms would seem to lead to an inevi­ table stalemate: how can the cultural infrastructure simultaneously have an experimental, economic and social orientation? Which motif dominates – when who or what – is still capable of evaluating the eventual outcome of this stack of ambitions in terms of good or bad, failed or successful? Nevertheless, this club sandwich of goals is the only, truly dominant reality for cultural policy. While the ambitions of the past – free, autonomous, experimental – still rever­ berate, the keywords of yesteryear – NL

Inc., technology, innovation – together with most recent aspirations – social, urgent – have fused to form a new rhetoric. Is this the result of market domi­nance, or a signal of the demise of politics? Is this a case of pure pragma­ tism propagated decades ago as ‘dirty realism’? Or is this the fluid face of the here and now, arising from the implosion of all the systems the Dutch state once constructed: economic, cultural, spatial planning and social? Within the endless pile of realities and ambitions, Malkit Shoshan’s research into peacekeeping missions as a catalyst for local development can be seen as a logical outcome of this par­ticu­lar state of affairs. Her research was developed in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was supported by a fellow­ ship at Het Nieuwe Instituut. As an activist, theorist and architect, she attempts not so much to demolish the walls between disciplines, ministries and ideologies, but rather to explore the paradoxical space of new cultural infra­ structure as an experimental, economic and social zone. In this space, she encoun­ters new strengths, new limita­ tions and a new rhetoric that goes far

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beyond earlier conventions in terms of either left- or right-wing politics or engagement versus pragmatism. In response to the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Slavoj Žižek recently referred to Frederic Jameson, who prop­ a­gates the global militarization of our society as a form of emancipation. Žižek: “Democratically motivated grassroots movements are seemingly doomed to failure, so perhaps it’s best to break global capitalism’s vicious cycle through ‘militarization’, which means suspending the power of self-regulating economies. Perhaps the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe provides an opportunity to test this option.” Shoshan’s readiness to see the peacekeeping missions as a catalyst for local development is not a first step towards Žižek’s and Jameson’s militari­ zation as emancipation, but it is certainly an exploration of a world that cannot be understood in terms of oppositions. Beyond good and bad, she attempts both; reporting from the front to open up a new public realm: Blue. Guus Beumer Het Nieuwe Instituut


The entrance of the UN Super camp, Gao, Mali

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The Hilton Hotel swimming pool in Bamako, Mali. The Hilton is currently converted into the MINUSMA headquater

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BLUE: The Archi­tecture of UN Peace­keeping by Malkit Shoshan

Curatorial statement After the collapse of the Soviet Union and increasingly since 9/11 and the ‘War on Terror’, warfare has moved into the city. While the wars of the 20th century were largely between nations, fighting over territorial sovereignty and along disputed borders, the wars of the 21st century have been internal and border­less. Today’s wars are being fought between large multinational coa­litions of security regimes and insurgent net­ works. It’s not just war that has moved to the city though: the entire security apparatus has moved with them too, including its peacekeepers and their entire infrastructure. Today, United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations are taking place in hundreds of cities around the world and at a large scale. BLUE aims to turn the spotlight on contemporary UN peacekeeping missions as an urban phenomenon. For the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, the Netherlands will explore architecture’s ability to improve the quality of the built environment – and with it people’s lives – by critically exploring its own role in UN missions and its frontiers. BLUE: The Legacy of UN Peace­ keeping Missions began as a research project and a dialogue between the Dutch Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, architects and other cultural actors. The Dutch ‘3D’ approach to

missions – integrating Defense, Diplomacy and Development – is internationally regarded as innovative and progressive. By adding a fourth ‘D’ – Design – UN camps can be transformed from closed fortresses into catalysts for local develop­ment. BLUE takes the Dutch Camp for the UN in Gao, Mali – Camp Castor – as its case study. Here the ‘blue people’, the Tuareg, and the ‘blue helmets’ of the UN meet; as do the desert and the Dutch approach, the nomads and settlement… BLUE – which as a color also represents boundlessness – exists at the inter­sec­ tion of architecture, human rights and activism. It emerges in times of conflict as the endless space of imagi­nation and pragmatism that can produce alternative solutions. BLUE has the potential to improve life for millions of people. BLUE is made up of a series of narratives based on conversations with military engineers, architects, anthro­ pologists, economists, activists, policymakers, journalists and novelists. Incorporating cultural and spatial explo­ ra­tions, BLUE positions architecture in three distinct ways: as research, identi­ fying and making visible spatial chal­ lenges and opportunities; as a practice, improving people’s living environment; and as a critical cultural space, reflec­ ting upon phenomenal transitions in society. With this approach, conflict can become a chance for architecture to reinvent both the built environment and itself. 6

A visit to the UN archive It’s hard to find information about the physical footprint of UN peacekeeping operations; the current reality of these missions keeps evolving, and their past eras are under-researched. So I decided to visit the UN archive in New York to find out more. The visit required a lot of prepara­ tion; I had to schedule my meeting weeks in advance, fill in forms and deliver a list of folders that I would like to examine. Navigating the UN archive database wasn’t straightforward either, requiring preliminary knowledge of UN codewords and abbreviations before I even got there. A succession of email exchanges with a UN archive employee led to the decision to use a range of keywords, including: #peace­keeping, #compounds, #camps, #head­quarter, #blueprint and #Africa, as well as mission abbreviations like MINUSMA, UNMIL, MONUSCO. The folders were pre-assembled according to these terms by archive employees in anticipation of my visit. The archive building itself was unimpressive, located on a side street a few blocks away from the UN head­ quarters. When I finally found the entrance and rang the doorbell, a young girl opened the door enthusiastically. She looked like a volunteer in a food relief mission, but was in fact the archive manager. From her reaction, it was clear


MINUSTAH MINUSTAH MINUSTAH

UNIFIL

UNDOP UNMIK

UNTSO UNFICYP

UNMGIP

MINURSO

MINUSTAH

MINUSMA UNAMID UNISFA UNOCI MINUSCA

UNMISS

MONUSCO UNMIL

UN peacekeeping peacekeeping operations operations UN UN peacekeeping operations

Recent UNpeacekeeping peacekeeping operations Recent UN operations Recent UN peacekeeping operations Recent UN peacekeeping operations

1–10 bases 1-10 bases 1-10 bases 1-10 bases

11–20 bases 11 -20 bases 11 -20 bases 11 -20 bases

21–30 bases 21 -30 bases 21 -30 bases 21 -30 bases

More than 40 bases More than 40 bases

UN peacekeeping operations in relation to number of UN bases

that the archive didn’t have too many visitors. UN peacekeeping operations She accompanied me to a small Recent UN peacekeeping operations and tired-looking reading room. The 1-10 bases shabby space looked like an old11 -20 bases fashioned library from an obsolete 21 -30 filled bases discipline, with tables that seemed than 40 for bases the room. The walls much tooMorebig were covered with shelves occupied by Past UN peacekeeping operations books mostly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There were auto­biographies of Ben Gurion, Moshe Dyan and other figures. Next to these sat old atlases of underdeveloped parts of the world, many of them produced by the World Bank. On the other side of the room, on four metal carts, there was a pile of folders awaiting my attention. The papers were old, thin and yellowing. While browsing them, I found myself transported to a different era. One of the first folders included private letters, photographs and the like. I came across two intriguing postcards written by a UN employee back in the 1950s exhibiting firsthand experience from Tripoli. The first one enthusiastically greeted the beginning of a UN mission; the image on its front was of a building in Tripoli. The second postcard was more peculiar. The same UN employee sent his office a note: “Dear George, Have just pur­ chased the Sahara Desert. Should I charge this to account 560 or 691? I hear they are reorganizing again. Best to truth…” These were exciting times for Africa. Many countries had begun to

More than 40 bases More than 40 bases

Past UN peacekeeping operations Past UN UN peacekeeping peacekeeping operations operations Past Past UN peacekeeping operations

loosen the stranglehold of colonialism. Libya had become independent from the UK in December 1951, followed by Sudan, Tunisia and Morocco. Mali gained its independence from France in June 1960, followed by Congo, Somalia and Niger. The African continent was embark­ing on a new era – a post-World War epoch. It was a time of euphoria and wonder that saw a new order beginning to emerge. The post-colonial division of Africa brought conflict that gave rise and fall to many nation states. The region is, to say the least, far from being stable even to this day; wars, uprisings, extremism, climate change and disease continue to tear the continent apart. UN peace­ keeping operations currently take place in 170 cities across sub-Saharan Africa. Another folder I came across in my visit to the archive was simply titled: ‘Congo’. In it, there was a report labeled ‘The Future of UN bases’ that dated from the late 1960s. The report looked at the configuration of Camp Camina, a UN base established by peacekeepers from Belgium. The report was a unique example of contemplation and doubt about the legacy of UN peacekeeping missions, reminding me of many of the issues that brought me to the archive in the first place. Overly ambitious UN structures were built that resembled a modernist Corbusian city rather than a temporary compound. At the end of the mission, no one knew what to do with the place; Camina still exists, though 7

perhaps standing as little more than a reminder of Congo’s conflicted past. I left the archive with just few documents. It was clear that much of the research would require fieldwork – especially since the phenomena of UN peacekeeping continues to evolve, adjusting itself to new realities and a new type of war.

The historical evolution of UN peace­keeping missions UN peacekeeping operations started in 1948 just after the UN was established. Peacekeepers are representatives of world nations who work together to reduce armed conflicts and the devas­tation of war. We can divide the missions into three eras of peace­keeping up until today: The first period took place from 1948 until the collapse of the Soviet Union. These missions were modest in size, budget and footprint. They oper­ ated mainly along disputed national borderlines, and they were lightly militarized. The second generation of missions started at the end of the Cold War and lasted until 9/11. Missions moved from borders to cities. The most distinct mo­ ment of change was during the mission in Kosovo, where peacekeepers per­ formed outside the traditional bound­


WWII X India - Pakistan Partition

X Israel-Palestinian Conflict

X Korean War

X Algerian War of Independece

X First Sudanese War

X Greek Civil War

1945

1965

1975

1985

1995

2005

2015

source: UN PEACEKEEPING

1955

1 IN THE AMERICAS 1 IN ASIA 2 IN EUROPE 3 IN THE MIDDLE EAST 9 IN AFRICA

X Decolonization in Africa

X Chad Civil War

X Guatemala Civil War X Vietnam War

X Nigerian Civil War

X Second Sudanese War

X Bangladesh Liberation War

X Mozambican Civil War

X Lebanese Civil War X Cyprus

UN MISSIONS

X Uganda Civil War

16

X East Timor X Angolan Civil War

ARMED CONFLICTS source: UDCP, PRIO

X Somalian Civil War

X Kurdish Displacement X Sri Lankan Civil War

42

X Iran - Iraq War X Afghanistan Civil War X Sino-Vietnamese War X El Salvador X Khmer Rouge in Cambodia

X Pakistan

source: UN PEACEKEEPING

X First Congo War X Nepal Civil War

X Syrian Civil War

106,245 UNIFORMED 16,791 CIVILIAN

X Mexican Drug War

UN PERSONNEL

X Libyan Civil War

124,746

X War in Darfur X Afghanistan War X Iraq War

REFUGEES WORLDWIDE source: UNHCR

X Ukraine Unrest

15 million

X Rwandan Genocide

source: UN PEACEKEEPING

END OF THE SOVIET UNION AND THE COLD WAR

PERFORMANCE OF PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS X Sierra Leone X Chechnya X Gulf War X Congo

UN BUDGET

X Algeria X Kashmir X Rwanda Civil War EXTENDED X Yugoslav Wars

HIGLY MILITARIZED

9/11 AND THE WAR ON TERROR

$8.27 billion

UN expenditure on Peacekeeping in relations to armed conflict and misplacement trends

aries of the mission; they operated on military, political, social and humani­ tarian levels simultaneously. The inter­ national community experimented with reconstructing the local environ­ment by introducing new laws; peace­keepers trained judges and police officers; they built new courtrooms and new prisons. They introduced new education systems; trained teachers and built new schools. The aim was to transform the Soviet institutions into more democratic ones and open the local market to the global economy. The third generation of peace­ keeping emerged after 9/11 and the launch of the ‘War on Terror’. These new missions became even bigger and much more militarized. They operate deep inside inhabited areas; it would take decades to restore and integrate the UN occupied spaces back to the local urban fabric. The general funding of UN peace­ keeping missions has increased yearly – from $4 million USD in 1948 to $8.7 billion USD in 2014 – and it keeps on growing.

From island to catalyst Over the past decade, a new approach has been introduced to the field of peace­keeping to address the complexity of cities. Under a policy called ‘The 3D Comprehensive Approach’, the inter­ national community strives to integrate elements of Diplomacy, Defense and Development. Neverthe­less, the spaces produced by missions tend privilege one element: Defense. UN camps, supercamps and headquarters are designed as self-sufficient islands enclosed by barbed wire and surrounded by trenches. These spaces fragment cities and increase the separation between the local community and the multi­ national forces. The physical manifestation of UN space doesn’t correlate with the scope of its peacekeeping missions. What if we were to add a fourth ‘D’ – Design – to the 3D approach? Design can mitigate consequences between the different 8

and at times conflicting scopes of missions. Not only that, but creating a base with the concept of legacy in mind recognizes the role of Development and Diplomacy, rather than simply paying tribute to Defense. Bases can be used as catalysts for local development rather than operating as islands. A couple of years ago, as a research fellow at Het Nieuwe Instituut, I invited Dutch peacekeeping partners – engineers and policy-makers from Dutch Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs – to take part in a design experiment. I introduced the notion of legacy and asked them whether they had ever thought about what is left behind at the end of a UN mission. Using design, we started to think about transforming foreign waste into local resources. The Dutch Ministries offered to look at Camp Castor, a newly built base in Gao, Mali. Together we modified the plan of the base and emphasized the importance of integration with the community. We invited economists, anthropologists and urban agriculture experts to join the


The setting up of Camp Castor in Gao, Mali Photo courtesy of the Ducth Ministry of Defense

conversation. Together we developed models that could help to establish a relationship between locals and the base.

Camp Castor: A Dutch base on the Saharan borders Over the past few years, sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed many conflicts – from wars over resources to national uprisings – and seen the intervention of many international missions. Life in this region is dynamic and in constant flux. The harsh climate forces a completely different use of space from the one we experience further north. The borders of the desert are not national; they are seasonal. The nomadic lifestyle is intertwined with nature and what the desert has to offer, which is not very much. People and their herds move from one place to the other and often over vast territories looking for water and food. This used to be the only way to survive in the desert. After the fall of Colonel Gaddafi in 2012, militarized groups moved from Libya towards the south, back to the desert, to Niger and Northern Mali. One of these groups was the Tuareg – the nomads of the Sahara – who had worked as soldiers for Gaddafi. After escaping from Libya, they realized they had lost their primary employer and had no place to go. They established the MNLA (The Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) and began fighting for self-determi­na­ tion. In the Sahara, however, they dis­ covered they weren’t alone. The rapidly escalating violence by al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other jihadist groups threatened to destabilize the entire region. In 2012, the Islamist group Ansar Din joined the MNLA, and together they succeeded in taking control of northern Mali. This led to the establish­ment of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabili­ zation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). UN forces helped the Malian government

The setting up of Camp Castor in Gao, Mali Photo courtesy of the Ducth Ministry of Defense

gain control back over the northern parts of the country. Since April 2013, the UN has built dozens of compounds, headquarters and super-camps in thirteen cities across Mali. One of the compounds – our case study – was set up by the Dutch peacekeepers in Gao. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its inhabitants are in desperate need of resources. Applying Design for Legacy here can help elevate the lives of millions.

A field trip to Mali Bamako We landed in Bamako on 13 March 2016. We stepped out of our Air France plane into the fierce African heat. It was the first time I had travelled under the formal title of ‘Design Advisor’ to the Dutch Ministry of Defense. Bamako is the capital city of Mali and is home to more than two million people. The city is growing rapidly – at a rate of 7.5% every year. In the Bamako international airport we met three Dutch soldiers who were stationed in Midgard – a UN transit camp operated by Swedish and Dutch peace­ keepers. The men wore Dutch military uniforms with a light desert pattern and a bright-yellow vest with the letters MOVCON (Movement Control Unit). We were under their supervision from the moment we stepped out of the plane. They cleared the way for our smooth transit through the airport, and after collecting our bags we walked towards a white UN van. A local driver greeted us in French, and carefully stacked our bags inside the back of the car. We drove through a foreign landscape. The roads were in reasonable condition but it was hard to see anything beyond the beaming front lights of the car. The local scenery was hidden in the darkness of the night.

Midgard Midgard is a relatively small transit camp. Although it was close to the 9

In the 16th century in Leiden University faculty members like Simone Stevin and van Schooten designed forts for times of war and for times of peace

airport, it took us fifteen minutes to get there. The direct road was closed and guarded by the Malian army; every roadblock, fence or checkpoint was explained away by a corresponding security hazard. On our way, the MOVCON guys indicated some of the mission landmarks: the UN super camp, the Malian base and the Bangladeshi one. The bases were enclosed with barbed wire; one bubble after the other, they delineated secure corridors for international movement. Checkpoints, camps, guard posts and fences; all constructed in the past two years. In Midgard, we were accompanied to our tents, which were unexpectedly equipped with air conditioning, lights and a bed with an anti-mosquito net. There were two types of tents in the camps: ones for people in transit, like us, and another kind for the troops who serve at the camp. I was told that these tents cost as much as $50,000 USD each, and it was the Swedes who brought them to Mali. The ground in the base was covered with a thick layer of gravel. The tiny grey stones separated the base from the local soil. Parts of the camp were still under construction – holes in the ground revealed the base’s infra­ structure: water tubes, electricity wires, sewage pipes and telecommuni­cation cables. The top layer was a combination of containers and tents. It was made to look temporary. Other camps surrounded Midgard: the closest one was the Bangladeshi camp, then the Egyptian one and the closest to the exit was a Malian base. The Malian camp was inhabited by soldiers and their families; it looked like a small village, and was our first encoun­ ter with the local lifestyle. Though in Midgard, there were local workers alongside the troops. On the first morning I met Madeleine, a young girl from Bamako, who was cleaning the base. The first time I met her she wore a blue uniform. She would hang her other blue dress on the fence, and put it back on again before leaving the camp. The kitchen had other kinds of staff too. A private contractor managed them, and


TUNISIA MOROCCO

WESTERN SAHARA

ALGERIA

LIBYA

EGYPT

CHAD

SUDAN

MAURITANIA NIGER Gao

SENEGAL GAMBIA

MALI

ERITREA

BURKINA FASO

GUINEA-BISSAU

DJIBOUTI BENIN

GUINEA

GHANA

TOGO

LIBERIA

ETHIOPIA

SOUTH SUDAN

CAR

NIGERIA

SIERRA LEONE

CAMEROON SOMALIA

CÔTE D’IVOIRE EQ. GUINEA

UGANDA CONGO

DR CONGO

GABON 750 Ghana Empire

KENYA RWANDA

1000–1450 Mali Empire

TANZANIA

BURUNDI 1335 Mali Empire

1375–1590 Songhai Empire

ANGOLA

MALAWI

1600 Moroccan Saadi Dynasty

ZAMBIA MOZAMBIQUE 1880 French Sudan

ZIMBABWE MADAGASCAR

1914 French West Africa

NAMIBIA BOTSWANA

SWAZILAND

LESOTHO 1960 The Republic of Mali

SOUTH AFRICA

2016 UN Peacekeeping Missions in Africa

Fluctuation of borders and empires in relation to the contemporary borders of Mali

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TUNISIA MOROCCO

WESTERN SAHARA

ALGERIA

LIBYA

EGYPT

CHAD

SUDAN

MAURITANIA NIGER Gao

SENEGAL GAMBIA

MALI

ERITREA

BURKINA FASO

GUINEA-BISSAU

DJIBOUTI BENIN

GUINEA

GHANA

TOGO

LIBERIA

ETHIOPIA

SOUTH SUDAN

CAR

NIGERIA

SIERRA LEONE

CAMEROON SOMALIA

CÔTE D’IVOIRE EQ. GUINEA

UGANDA CONGO

DR CONGO

GABON

KENYA RWANDA

TANZANIA

BURUNDI

ANGOLA

Countries with UN Peacekeeping operations

REFUGEE POPULATION source: UNHCR 2015

Main contestes territories

MALAWI ZAMBIA MOZAMBIQUE

<5,000,000

ZIMBABWE MADAGASCAR

Moderate

<100,000

NAMIBIA BOTSWANA

SWAZILAND

Moderate- High High

LESOTHO SOUTH AFRICA

Countries with UN Peacekeeping operations

REFUGEE POPULATION source: UNHCR 2015

Main contestes territories

<5,000,000

Moderate

<100,000

Moderate- High High

UN UN PEACEKEEPING missions in relation to main contested territories and areas with drought

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UN Super camp, Gao, Mali

UN Super camp, Gao, Mali

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no one could say where the company came from. The employees were neither local nor UN staff. They seemed to be from Asia. They were very accommo­ dating, but didn’t engage in conver­sa­ tion. Back home I googled the company name and discovered that it’s headquar­ tered in Dubai. The ownership was not clear, but it was the principal supplier of transnational cooperation to the UN.

Meetings in the City In Bamako, we met Mani el Ansary and Master Soumy. Mani is one of the organizers of a desert festival in Timbuktu. He is forced to live in exile; he is Tuareg and escaped from Timbuktu after the jihadists captured it. Master Soumy is a young rapper whose lyrics describe the conflict and situation in Mali. Soumy seemed to be frustrated with life in Mali. Young people are stuck in a tough place, he said. On the one hand, you have the conflict and the extremists who tell you how to behave, and on the other, you have a corrupt regime that doesn’t want you to devel­ op. His music is censored by the media; he told us the government controls the national radio and TV stations. Both Mani and Master Soumy said they were con­ fused about the UN mission and its longterm intentions of the UN. Later on, we met with a group of local architects. They had all studied abroad in Tunis, Algeria and Strasbourg. At first their primary interest was to hear about Venice. They follow the Biennale from afar. Although it has spectacular architecture, Mali has never been repre­ sented in Venice. While the archi­tects wanted to talk about the Biennale, I wanted to understand how the UN mission affects their lives and the city. What does it mean to practice architec­ ture while a UN mission has taken over the city? Have they been involved in the massive construction of the mission? Apparently not. The local architects are not involved in the construction of UN sites. They mostly work on small-scale local housing projects. For them, the UN mission felt like another form of Western occupation. Yet, they were very pragmatic. They wanted to see positive developments in the city, and they welcomed any attempt by the international community to engage with the local population and help improve livelihoods.

Hilton and the Super-camp After that meeting we travelled to the UN headquarters, which had taken over a former Hilton hotel. Master Soumy apparently used to perform at the swim­ ming pool there. Before the conflict, it was a busy hangout space for the rich local youth, but now it’s restricted to UN use only. The mission plans to move

to a newly built super-camp soon – after which the Hilton will be given back to the city. The UN super-camp is currently under construction. It is designed as an island, enclosed in barbed wire and trenches, and as the name indicates, is enormous. Different UN contingencies share it. It’s like a city inside a city; inside there’s a hospital, restaurants, multiple offices and a fire station. It is an emerging typology. The designer of the camp is a Bulgarian architect. She was not a UN staff member, but a freelance consult­ ant. I asked her how she ended up in Bamako. She said that she couldn’t sus­ tain her practice in Bulgaria, and her friend referred her to this job. Her coworker is a Moroccan contractor from Casablanca who works for different missions in the region, supplying local expertise. He seemed very resourceful in dealing with the challenging climate and the heat. He showed us around his projects and explained how he hacked the modular system to create better air circulation and shade by lifting up the roofs of the passages between different structures.. Why weren’t local architects involved in this project? It is, after all, their city. If one wants to incorporate the idea of inte­gration, this should be one of the first steps to start with – collaborate with locals and make spaces that can even­tually be embedded within the city. However, these links were not there. Before we left, I asked what the land was used for before the UN took over. The answer: a grazing field for more than 300 cows. I wondered where the cows had gone… We also visited the city. The center was very busy and felt rather safe. The conflict has crushed the local economy; tourism is gone, and the market was empty. Local products were beautiful – handmade textiles, musical instruments, spices and jewelry. There were examples of creativity and beauty everywhere you looked.

The Trip to Gao We were picked up by the MOVCON guys one morning and taken back to the airport. By now, we knew the road well. The UN mission controls the internal airports of Mali; flights are operated by a Russian company, and there are no civilian flights between the cities. I was lucky to have a window seat; the plane had very few windows. It was beautiful to see the landscape changing from green to yellow as we approached the Sahara. Just before landing, I noticed the powerful presence and staggering beauty of the Niger River. We stepped off the plane into the desert heat. The airport in Gao was small and in poor shape. The ceiling was falling apart and 13

the walls were peppered with bullet holes. We met the local MOVCON guy, who greeted us and presented us the pro­gram for the next few days. Then, we drove to Camp Castor. In addition to Castor, there are two large UN bases in Gao: a UN super-camp and a Chinese camp. They together equal one third of the city’s built area. Gao is an old town, located on the Niger River and along the path of major cross-continental routes. It is a city of flows. Throughout history, different cul­ tures have come together in Gao: the Sahara dwellers and the emperors, as well as the slaves and their traders. The city is very rich with both culture and history. Gao is expected to triple in size in the coming twenty years. At the moment, Gao is home to 90,000 people – 10,000 of which are refugees. Thousands of the city’s former Tuareg dwellers were forced out because of conflict, and are cur­rent­ ly living in refugee camps in neighboring countries. People who have stayed in the city have no stable access to water and electricity; most live in stark poverty. There are about 450 Dutch soldiers in Camp Castor, which is now being extended to accommodate newly arriving German troops. Although the city of Gao is only few hundred meters away, once inside the base, it feels like the city has simply disappeared. Most of the soldiers have never visited the city during their deployment. Castor is engi­neered as a flawless machine; a UN employee in New York told me that it is a ‘state of the art’ peacekeeping base. Inside, Dutch engineers experiment with energy production in arid climates and have developed a hybrid system of solar power and oil. As for water, they have combined filters that allow them to recycle up to 85% of what is used. All of the infrastructure runs below ground. This is all very impressive, especially since it’s existed for just two years. It was very clear, however, that knowledge doesn’t cross the fence; not even to the adjacent UN super-camp, let alone to the city. We also visited the super-camp. It is huge; another island, or more pre­ cisely, an archipelago. It consists of offices and camps of various contingen­ cies. We had a meeting with the man­ ager of the base, who is highly educated and very passionate. He wanted to con­ tribute more, that there was much that could be done, but the bureaucracy does not allow for it. He said the women of Gao are hard workers – that they can be collaborated with to change the city – but that it is difficult to break through the system and to make resources avail­ able. He complained about the drainage system and the floods during the rainy season, which is awful, both in the camp and the city. There is a lot waste in the


An underground dig of the UN transit camp, Midgard in Bamako, Mali

UN PK bases in Gao Line illustration on top of Google Earth maps

14


TUNISIA MOROCCO

WESTERN SAHARA

ALGERIA

LIBYA

EGYPT

CHAD

SUDAN

MAURITANIA NIGER Gao

SENEGAL GAMBIA

MALI

ERITREA

BURKINA FASO

GUINEA-BISSAU

DJIBOUTI BENIN

GUINEA

GHANA

TOGO

LIBERIA

ETHIOPIA

SOUTH SUDAN

CAR

NIGERIA

SIERRA LEONE

CAMEROON SOMALIA

CÔTE D’IVOIRE EQ. GUINEA

UGANDA CONGO

DR CONGO

GABON

KENYA RWANDA

TANZANIA

BURUNDI

ANGOLA

MALAWI ZAMBIA MOZAMBIQUE ZIMBABWE MADAGASCAR

NAMIBIA BOTSWANA

SWAZILAND

LESOTHO SOUTH AFRICA

UN peacekeeping missions in the Sahel and cities with UN compounds

15


THE UN SUPER CAMP IN GAO, MALI

drainage system that ends up polluting the river and the aquifer. He showed us pictures and had a quick conversation with Erwin, the responsible engineer of Camp Castor we were traveling with. Watching this, I was wondering how much knowledge could be shared if the collaboration between the Dutch and the UN was more structural. The super-camp felt more civic; it had urban touches like traffic islands and sidewalks. These were nowhere to be found in the other bases we visited. I drove back to Castor with Wisje, the ‘3D’ Representative. Wisje lives in Castor, works at the super-camp, and stays in touch with the city. She holds the entire network in her hands. Back in Castor, we approached another island – the area of the commando unit – where they gave me a briefing before we headed into the city. We drove into the city with two cars, four guards and protective gear – a bullet­ proof vest, helmet and all. It took us less than five minutes to enter the first neigh­ borhood. In the city we had a conversa­ tion with two representatives of a small non-governmental organization (NGO). Their ambition is to introduce smart navi­gation systems to herders. They want to insert chips in goats and sheep and link them to a satellite system, assum­­ ing that by tracing the movement of the herd the shepherds can discover water. Water scarcity is a huge challenge. It threatens the livelihoods of millions – people, animals and vegetation. The drought is severe, and people are looking for alternatives to survive. The people from this NGO are resourceful with information: they travel across the entire region to talk with pastoralists;

The Bangladeshi camp inside of the UN Super camp in Gao, Mali

they know how people live in the most remote areas. There’s poverty and fam­ ine in the southeast region of Menaka, which they told us is on the verge of catastrophe. What’s more, the people of the region are still fighting with each another; many in remote areas don’t even know that a cease-fire agreement was signed six months ago. The two men admitted that they were confused about the intentions of the UN as well. Without the involvement of the international community in 2013, they said, it would have been complete chaos. But now there is a cease-fire agreement. They mentioned that if the international community wanted to contribute to peace, they should begin with helping children, since local people can’t afford to send their children to school. But even those who can go to school and have a profession cannot find jobs because the market is very limited. The jihadists know this; the two NGO workers told us they recruit chil­ dren at a very young age. They take them to their schools while local schools are empty because no one can afford them. They said they felt this to be the future because the parents can’t do much. Additionally, healthcare in Mali is non-existent. People die at a very young age, and they said no one plans for the future here. According to our guides, there is much more the UN could do if they really wanted peace. After the meet­ ing, we drove through the city. It was barren. The uniformity of materials and color is beautiful though; the sand struc­ ture and the occasional tent merge organ­ ically with the built areas. Here the nomadic and the urban live peacefully together.

16

The ‘Jewels of Castor’ Before leaving Gao, the colonel of the base told us not to miss the ‘Jewels of Castor’. Deeply hidden from the eyes of the engineers was another island. Inessential to the mission, it was a wonder­ land. The airforce unit found a creative way to deal with the desert heat and with the mission. We walked toward a corner of the base; the locals called it the sprokje bos – the fairy-tale forest. A narrow stone path led us to an inner patio. It had an improvised waterfall with a small wooden hut floating above that reminded me of a leaflet advertising a yoga retreat. The hut had no glass windows, but wide openings decorated with white curtains that were blowing in the desert wind. We continued our walk through the cabin back to the narrow path, passing another decorated inner court. We paused by a wooden horse; a few meters away we saw a mock tipi… On the horizon there were two fake palm trees, adorned with finely detailed leaves and coconuts. The final spectacle was a shaded area decorated like a beach bar. The front was painted in red, white and blue; fake orange trees had fake oranges fastened to the front, and at the top of the entrance there was a large ‘free wifi’ sign. I’m not sure whether I was delusional – caught by a mirage, a Fata Morgana or a Flying Dutchman – or not, but the sea and the desert seemed closer than ever. This was an encounter between different systems – the Dutch approach and the desert. From this angle – a mis­ sion of endless creativity and unlimited possibilities – it looked very promising.


Refugees and internally displaced persons in Mali and surrounding countries

A L G E R I A

1,500

M AURI TANI A

28,650

12,330 15,282

51,253 E dj éri

54,777

k ua ao Az

16,754 10,809

Timbuktu Lac Faguibine

Gao Lac Niangay

eg Sen

al

Kayes

39,625 284

lé ou Ba

GAMBIA

Baou lé

15

GUINEABISSA U

L. de Sélingué

G U I N E A

2,271

56,817

NIGE RIA

BURKINA FAS O

Sikasso 1,236

Ni ge r

174

T

BENIN

OG

GH AN A

O

SIERRA LEO NE

N I G E R

33,049

Ségou ni 8,387 Ba 563

Bamako Ni ge r

Ba fi ng

y ko Ba

Lac de Manantali

Ni ge r

5,100 Mopti

Ba goé

SENEG AL

16,042 164

C ÔTE D'IVOIRE

0

UN PK bases in Mali and peacekeepers contributing contingents

100

200

ALGERIA

CHAD* CAMBODIA*

Tessalit HQ NORTH* GUINEA CHAD BANGKADESH* CAMBODIA* NEPAL TOGO BENIN

Aguelhok HQ WEST* BURKINA FASO BANGLADESH CAMBODIA EL SALVADOR GHANA* LIBERIA INDONESIA NIGERIA SENEGAL* SWEDEN EGYPT NIGERIA

Lac Faguibine Lac Niangay

eg Sen Aourou Kayes

TOGO*

Nampala

Dyabali

Douentza

lé ou Ba

Bandiagara Koro

Kati

Koulikoro

BAMAKO

Koutiala

L. de Sélingué

GUINEA

Kankan

TOGO*

Ménaka

Ni ge r

Kolondiéba

17 CÔTE D'IVOIRE

Ni Ansongo ge r

NIGER* BENIN*

Ouagadougou

Bougouni Sikasso

Yanfolila

SIERRA LEONE

Djenné i Ban San

Ba goé

Ba fi ng

Kita

y ko Ba

Lac de Manantali

Ségou

Baou lé

Bafoulabé

NIGER*

ak ou za l'A

HQ EAST* BANGLADESH CAMBODIA CHINA* GHANA SENEGAL* NETHERLANDS* GERMANY EGYPT

Mopti / Sevare

Niono

Tambacounda GAMBIA

Diéma

Ni ge r

SENEGAL

BURKINA FASO*

Nioro du Sahel

Bourem

Gao Gossi TOGO*

al

GUINEABISSAU

Bamba

BURKINA FASO*

Goundam Leré

Timbuktu Ber

NIGER

de

BURKINA FASO*

Kidal E dj éri Anefis i-n-Darane

Va ll é e

HQ MINUSMA** MULTINATIONAL* (NL, SWE) BANGLADESH* BENIN GHANA* NIGERIA EGYPT* SENEGAL*

CHAD* BANGKADESH*

GHANA


A 15,000 US Dollars tent in Midgard, Bamako

18


The area of the Dutch hospital inside of Camp Castor, Gao, Mali

The housing chalets of Camp Castor in Gao. The roofs are covered with solar panels and linked to the camp power plant

19


BLUE Accounts Within the global framework of UN peacekeeping missions, you can find individual stories – accounts of people who spent time in missions, missionaries, peacekeepers, explorers and rebels. Their experiences bring the human dimension of these missions to life. Their stories highlight cultural and political mindsets, similarities and differences. They illuminate the gaps between the abstraction of data and day-to-day life. This is a collection of experiences from novelists, journalists, diplomats, soldiers, engineers, explorers, architects, activists and artists who have served in UN missions, or who have travelled to Mali. Their stories speak of their experiences, the Dutch approach and the local perspective.

Bandiagara: A Town on the Border of Azawad Peter Chilson

In early May 2012, days after a shaky alliance of Tuareg nationalists and jihadist rebels overran northern Mali, I visited the town of Bandiagara in the center of the country, an hour’s drive south of where the rebels stopped. With my friend Yusuf,1 who grew up around Bandiagara, we drove in a rented Toyota Land Cruiser to the offices of a private American rural development agency where he once worked. Yusuf told me that when Timbuktu, 170 miles to the north­west, fell at the end of March, the American staff crowded into a small fleet of SUVs and made a sudden, disor­gan­ized departure to Bamako, Mali’s capital. A week later they left the country. Jihadists and Tuareg rebels declared an independent state of northern Mali, half a million square miles of sand, rock and a dwindling savanna they call Azawad. The word reflected the pastoral culture of Tuaregs in a region of different human stories and a complex mix of ethnic groups – Tuareg, Fulani, Arab, Songhai, and, like Yusuf, Dogon. “The Americans told us they were shutting down the project but that it would only be temporary,” Yusuf said. “They stopped paying our salaries and rent on the offices.” He shook his head. “We’ll never see them again.” Now back in town with me, he steered the car onto a long dirt road

near the agency’s office. We found people all along the way burning their belongings in bonfires spread out every few hundred yards. The street was deeply rutted clay, wide enough for us to go around the fires. Ash and stray bits of paper blew about as the wind gusted. People hurried in and out of mud homes and concrete villas with armloads of paper, piling it on the flames. We stopped at a villa that housed the aid agency where Yusuf had worked. Through the front gate, employees carried card­ board boxes stuffed with paper and dumped them onto a bonfire – brand new schoolbooks, records for medical clinics, grant proposals, budget reports, all burned white smoke. They burned CDs and DVDs, too, and photo­graphs, cas­ sette tapes, magazines, maps – all the music, movies and images they thought would get them a flogging or worse from Islamist policemen. The plas­tic burned black. Flames jumped and bobbed as if eager to tell what was in all that stuff, spewing sparks and ash in a cloud that rushed away on a hard westerly wind. Twenty thousand people live in Bandiagara, which as a city dates to 1700 when it was a hunting camp on the Yamé River. The river, dry most of the year, splits the town on a plateau in the Dogon highlands, a few miles from the sandstone Bandiagara Escarpment that drops 1,600 feet to the plain where the Sahara begins. Jihadists have captured Bandiagara twice in the last two hundred years. It briefly served as capital of the 20

19th century Tukulor Empire – the last great jihadist state to rule in the West African Sahel until the French crushed it in 1893 and set up a puppet sultanate in Bandiagara, which still exists. More recently, European climbers and trek­ kers, attracted to the high cliffs, helped the city reinvent itself as a tourist town and climbers’ base camp. But on this afternoon, in my eyes, watering from the burning plastic, all of this seemed to be blowing away. A young woman ran out of the villa that housed the aid office, clutching a shopping bag in her hands. She was barefoot and wore a traditional African flower print dress that fell to her ankles and a headscarf. When she threw the bag on the flames, three or four pairs of high-heeled shoes, red and white and black, spilled out and caught fire, bleeding inky smoke. She looked into the fire a few seconds and then jogged back inside. In the wind, her scarf flapped from a knot at her neck. I’d never seen this before, people parting with their belongings in random panic, a ripple effect of war. I thought of a famous Vietnam War photograph of a helicopter on a Saigon rooftop, evacu­ ating people from an outdoor stairway – CIA staffers it turned out – as the city fell to the North Vietnamese. But this was Mali. Everything I’d known about this country I’d been visiting for thirty years was coming apart. Two months earlier Mali was one of Africa’s most peaceful and stable


Aerial view of Bandiagara, taken from Google Earth

countries, protected by an army of volunteer farmers. Now they battled hardened Islamist groups flush with arms looted from the collapsed Libyan state of Muammar Gaddafi. For many Malians the war came all of a sudden, as if they’d awoken one day to find at their door an enemy they didn’t know existed; bigger, fiercer and better armed than they were. The Malian army turned and ran, abandoning or losing in battle some eighty percent of its equipment, and regrouped across Mali’s narrow waist; a 200-mile east-to-west line that ran just north of Bandiagara with jihadists on one side, the government on the other. Every kilometer or so along that line groups of soldiers camped out with light armored vehicles and pickups mounted with machine guns, Mali’s best bulwark against the rebel advance. Banks shut down along the line and trucked their cash reserves to Bamako. Schools and post offices closed. Soldiers in Bandiagara sand­ bagged street corners and installed heavy machine guns. A light tank on big tractor wheels occupied Martyrs Square in the city center. Soldiers patrolled the streets in crisp new camouflage and helmets, Kalashnikovs over their shoulders. Yusuf knew the woman with the bag of shoes. He waved and shouted at her. “Fatima! Hey, Fatima!” We had pulled up just in time to see her chuck the bag on the fire. Yusuf, behind the wheel, stuck his head out the window, calling to her

again but she did not hear him. “What is all this?” Yusuf said, glancing at me. His former colleagues scurried in and out of the courtyard gate, two large swinging metal doors, feeding the bonfire in the street. They seemed giddy, like people at a neighborhood block party, shouting, occasionally laughing. This was not celebration, but blowing off tension, fear. He threw the Land Cruiser into reverse and backed it away from the heat. We watched a pile of CDs melt in the coals. I could not tell what was on the covers. Loud popping erupted in puffs of ash and red coals sprung out on the dirt, spent batteries maybe. The sound brought more people out of the buildings, looking anxiously this way until they realized there was no gunfire. A man in sandals, a red fez and long white knee-length tunic over leggings poured a box of thick spiral bound booklets onto the fire like dishwater. Yusuf loves to talk and never let conversations lag, but he studied the scene in silence, hands on the steering wheel. I said, “You’d think the rebels were around the corner.” Yusuf looked on as if he hadn’t heard me. I got out of the car and walked to the bonfire, picking up paper as I went. I read a page from a grant proposal to the French Embassy about books for a village school, and then something concerning a women’s market coopera­ 21

tive for selling vegetables, all of it in French, lingua franca of colonial West Africa. I crumpled the paper and threw it at the fire, which was hard to approach with the heat. I saw books in the flames, including a secondary school geography text. A Dick Francis thriller with an image of a brassiere dangling from a woman’s fingers lay in the dirt just beyond the root of the flames. It was a French translation of Under Orders – a novel featuring a jockey turned private eye that I’d read years earlier. I kept glancing at it because I hated to see a good read burn. The story begins slowly but takes off when an English jockey crosses the finish line astride his horse and with a chest full of bullet holes. The fire looked like it was spitting out of the earth. I watched, fascinated. I saw something that looked like an olive green piece of clothing that had fallen away from the flames and was smoldering. On impulse, I grabbed at the cloth, plucking out a piece of sleeve. At the top was a charred shoulder patch of the yellow, red and green Malian flag above the words, Forces Armée Malienne. It was a shred of a soldier’s uniform tunic. I burned my fingers on the cloth and dropped it. Yusuf had gotten out of the car and when I looked up, sucking on the tips of two slightly burnt fingers, he was leaning against the Land Cruiser, arms folded, feet crossed at the ankles. His face was expressionless. “Be careful,” he said. I stepped back and joined him, leaning


Rocky terrain and farmland outside Bandiagara

against the car. “I think your friends are trying to erase the history of this place.” Yusuf shook his head. “Two years’ work gone. I cannot participate in this. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have nothing to hide. I have my good name.” Yusuf wanted to see old friends but instead we found the bonfire and people running around. The scene was not just about Yusuf’s job at the agency – the well projects he’d developed, the rural medical dispensaries he’d built and equipped, and the literacy programs in French and Dogon he’d helped develop – but about a livelihood and years of work vanishing. Here, Mali was bleeding away and a collective national question spiraled in the smoke – What do we do now? We stood beside the Land Cruiser as one of Yusuf’s co-workers, a young man in sandals, jeans and a clean white collared shirt ran out of the villa. He was clutching a bundle of manila file folders to his chest. He threw them in an awkward flurry on the fire, which was so hot it was hard to get close. A wind gust caught a bunch of paper and blew it down the street. “Yusuf!” he shouted, waving. He reached to shake my hand. “Who is the white man?” Yusuf explained I was a journalist. “Well you are welcome,” he said to me and then laughed. “You are

the last white person in all of the Mopti region.” While Yusuf and his colleague shared news, I edged toward the fire to pick up the Dick Francis novel. The book lay in the sand, charred at the edges. Dick Francis was good entertainment, even in French, and I liked the fact that he’d been a heavy drinker and a racing jockey like his detective character. I liked the rumors that his wife might have written some of his novels, a suspicion of authorship he shares with Shakespeare. Here on a ‘frontline’ of the war on terror – on the edge of a land where jihadists were whipping people caught drinking alcohol and unmarried couples for talking to each other in public, destroying musical instruments and burning books – the work of a writer who gave us divorced, hard drinking protagonists and himself led an unreliable life, needed rescue from the fire. I lunged forward and snatched up the novel, jumping back when the fire, as if itself under orders, threw sparks at me. Yusuf’s colleague gave me a friendly shout. “Why do you want that book?” As I backed away from the fire, holding the book in one hand and running a hand through my hair to clear it of hot cinders, he stepped over to shake my hand again. “You will write about this, okay? You will tell the world our story.” He 22

stared earnestly into my face. “You know this is not about Tuaregs any more. It’s more serious. The jihadists are here.” I slid the book under my arm and took his hand in both of mine. “That’s why I am here,” I said. He grabbed the Dick Francis novel from my under armpit, maybe thinking I was about to toss it on the flames anyway or maybe because he disapproved of the brassiere on the cover, and threw it in the flames before running back into the villa. The book vanished instantly. Behind me, Yusuf laughed. He took me inside the offices. In Bandiagara, if a building is not made of mud it’s built of cinder block. Nicer buildings, like this one, are covered with handsome milk chocolate mud stucco. This building had an adobe style red clay tile roof. Inside, everything was painted white. Single room offices surrounded a small tiled courtyard with an acacia tree growing in the middle. Boxes and stacks of chairs leaned against the walls. Paper lay all over. “Do you need to salvage anything here?” I said. “Let me help.” Yusuf shook his head. “There is nothing for us here. Let’s go.”

1 Yusuf is not his real name, which I ‘ve changed to protect him and his family, all of whom live near Bandiagara.


Cities in the desert A conversation with Moussa Ag Assarid

Moussa is Kel Tamasheq, better known as ‘Tuareg’, and European representative of MNLA, the National Liberation Movement of Azawad (the northern part of Mali).1 I met him in a cafe in Utrecht together with Jonas Staal, Dutch artist and founder of the artistic and political organization New World Summit, which develops parliaments for stateless and blacklisted organizations. Moussa was in Utrecht to participate in the summit. Since the beginning of the twentieth century the Tuareg people have rebelled four times. The first rebellion, known as the Kaocen Revolt, took place in 1916–1917 against the French colonial rule. This revolt was, amongst others in the region, the result of a long period of drought that threatened the existence and livelihood of the Tuareg. The next rebellion took place from 1962–1964, just after Mali’s independence. One of the reasons behind this uprising was dissatisfaction with the new divisions of the Sahara by the French and other world powers that left the Tuareg scattered between different nations – mostly Mali and Niger. The rebellion was suppressed by the newly formed Malian army. The next Tuareg revolt took place between 1990– 1995, when they claimed autonomy again after the long drought, famine and the economic crisis of the 1980s. This rebellion ended in a peace agreement with the governments of Mali and Niger. During that uprising, the Libyan government sided with the Tuareg and provided them with employment and economic support. The Tuareg worked as soldiers in the Libyan army. In 2012, after the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime, they escaped Libya afraid of prosecution and for their future. They drove south to the Sahara with Gaddafi’s weapons and established the MNLA. In the Sahara, they were not the only ones aiming to gain control over the territory. Islamist groups, from al Qaeda to Daesh were gaining strength and preparing to rage a religious war throughout the entire region. In 2012, both the MNLA and opposing Jihadist groups began capturing cities in Northern Mali and rapidly progressing toward the capital of Bamako. They were stopped by the French and by MINUSMA, the UN mission. Moussa represents an important interest group that has been

marginalized for centuries in this region. The meeting with him was interesting, and his voice is important to hear to understand the local context. The MNLA aspires to redraw the map of Mali and claim its North as their own autonomous country of Azawad, where Gao is marked as the capital city. Gao is located alongside the Niger River and is one of the last stops before stepping into the Sahara. Currently, MINUSMA is controlling the city. I asked him how he envisioned the future of this city. Moussa first explained the strategic value of Gao. “Gao is located along the Niger River. The river crossing is an important resource. The river makes the city easily accessible from Algeria, Bamako or Timbuktu.” As a spokesperson of the MNLA, his first priority was to clarify his view of the current conflict: “The current problems in Gao were started by the Malian regime in Bamako. They were responsible for training some of the Songhai people into a militia.” He continued that the problem lies not only with Bamako but that “the Jihadist movement in Africa – the Ansar Din and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb – are also a very big problem. They are terrorists and some of them even hide amongs us”. “In 2012, the Malian government sent thousands of people to create small militarized groups to fight the MNLA. They did the same in 2014. They created a new militia called Ganda Koy. Without this mounting complexity and war, Gao could have been a perfect city, a model city.” Moussa clarifies that the MNLA has not publicly declared Gao as the capital of Azawad because he doesn’t want to be caught stating something that might inflame the already fragile conflict even further. He is not interested in escalation and additional controversies. He desires peace. “The situation must first calm down before further strategic decisions are taken,” he emphasizes. “Kidal is another city that could serve as the capital of Azawad. Kidal is located north to the Niger River and north to Gao. This city is affiliated with the Tuareg and with the MNLA. The main obstacles to proceeding with an implementation of Azawadian State lies 1200km away, in Bamako, and perhaps even further away, in Paris.” He highlights again that within the territories controlled by the MNLA there are small extremist terrorist groups. “They live among us, and they make it very hard to reach stability.” After clarifying his position, he begins speculating on the future Capital of Azawad from the perspective of his movement: 23

“The Azawadian capital is a multiethnic city. It is an independent city that is both vigorous and resilient. It is a city that can overcome climatic difficulties and can support its citizens economically, providing various sources of employment. In our city, we don’t fear the other. We live in a multi-ethnic and open society. We strive for cultural openness. This openness is not only in mind but also in space. We would like to live in a vast open space, with no borders. It can easily expand and shrink. It can grow as much as needed. It is a flexible space. The desert is not a closed place. It is open. It has no doors. Our city should emerge from these characteristics of the desert. It should be defined by the nature of the place. We want our society to strive for notions of respect and coexistence; we will appreciate not only similarities but also differences. After our independence, we want to invite others to live with us. Our cities will be open, people can join us, and those who have left can return. We receive our friends well. We, the Tuaregs, have always been foreigners; we were outsiders to cities and society. We were the nomads. We don’t wish to impose this feeling of exclusion and foreignness on anyone. Cities in the desert have no limits. The desert is a flat construct. We want to embrace this vastness and flatness. I believe that wealthy cities and European cities are high. They are dense and tall. Their physicality perhaps also depicts a state of inequality. Poor cities, however, expand over large territories. They are more equal. We want to build our cities based on accessibility and equality. We want to build low, to adjust ourselves to nature and to the landscape. We want to enjoy the fresh air and the climate. We want to build with natural materials that fit the climate. We build with sand. Electricity-dependent ventilation is too expensive for us. For instance, my house is made of patchwork. In the summer, the patchwork is made of textile and in the winter from a skin of sheep or a goat. I was born and raised in a tent. It was made of old clothes. The tent is part of nature, and the outdoors is my home. Once we visited a family that had a house in the city. The house was in fact a wall that enclosed a large court. Inside of the walled space there was a small structure with a roof. It had two storage spaces and a small balcony. We used the fixed structure as storage; we stored there our belongings, and we slept outside in a tent.” At the end of the conversation, I asked Moussa what he thinks of the UN mission in Mali and its legacy. “The Dutch contingency made a


Sketch of a house in the desert by Moussa Ag Assarid

good impression on the local people. But other contingencies that contribute peacekeeping forces to the UN have another mentality; other ways to dealing with the locals and with the MNLA. When the Dutch are present, the communication with the locals is good.” Moussa remembers his meeting with the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders. They talked briefly and he gave him the book he made with Jonas Staal in the context of the school of the New World Summit, the New World Academy. The book, The Art of Creating a State (Utrecht: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, 2014), assembled texts on the political and cultural history of the MNLA, including excerpts of literature, lyrics and poetry. The larger publication series of the New World Academy is aimed to generate a public

discourse on the inequality and marginality of groups unrepresented by institutional structures like the UN, but also to learn from their visions of alternative forms of autonomy and selfdetermination, as well as their specific cultural heritage. “In 2012, the MNLA was fighting terrorists, and the UN bombed us. We had to fight two fronts: the UN and the jihadists. The UN came to protect the Malian army, not to create peace. They are now settled, and if you look at their infrastructure, I don’t believe they will leave in the coming decade. It seems that they are planning to stay for ten, perhaps twenty or even thirty years. “It‘s hard for me to think about a peaceful mix between military and civic life. In the eyes of the Azawadians, the UN, after bombing us, is military. Their 24

intentions are not peaceful, and their legacy cannot be civic. Koenders and MINUSMA came to protect the Malians. The Malians don’t need protection from us. The UN and the Jihadists shot civilians, not us.” Moussa concludes by saying that “the UN should strive for peace. It should protect everybody and treat everyone the same. I hope in the future that will be the case. We want to be treated equally. We want to be respected. We don’t wish to be outsiders and foreigners in the society around us. We want peace.” 1 The MNLA is a coalition of peoples – Tuareg, Arab, Fula, and Songhai – of which the Tuareg consist of the largest group.


African Nomadic Architecture

Impressions from Labelle Prussin

“Nomadic cultures are, however, elusive, difficult to document and record. Nation states have always had problems with their nomadic population and have sought to settle them. Nomads do not observe political borders; the do not pay taxes; they are fiercely independent and live outside the cultural pale.” In her book African Nomadic Architecture; Space, Place, and Gender (1995), Labelle Prussin describes her research and finding on the history of nomadic architecture while focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa. Prussin provides a coherent documentation of a mysterious reality of

the nomad. By positioning the nomad in a political, cultural and spatial context, she manages to challenge many of the cannons of our society and our discipline, such as: national borders, western missions to Africa, the architectural definition of temporality, and the position of the women in society and as an architects. Furthermore, she describes the history and usages of the tent from different perspectives. She distinguishes between “indigenous tent usage from the tent as a political/religious institutional symbol; she recognizes changes in nature of desert occupancy and mobility, and acknowledges variations in lifestyle and social structure wrought by shifts between sedentary and nomadic existence.” In one of her accounts, she superposes the missionary parasol tent next to the African nomad tent. According to her, the 19th century European explorer and missionary used

a military-type tent. As an example, she takes Charles Gulliain’s exploration of East Africa, who illustrated his own tent next to a Somali mat-covered armature. Prussin re-drew maps to distinguish types of tents according to various nomadic ethnic origins and flows. She detailed the Tuareg tent as if it was made according to Western disciplinary cannons, indicating – besides the peoples’ nomadic routes – the construction process of both camp and tent, the layout of the former and the interior of the latter. The circular shape of the Tuareg tent and the round form of the roof, she said, replicates the vault of heaven. The tent is made of mats attached by cords to a heavy wooden armature; the mats are made of the leaves of young dum palm trees. Their length, shape and texture can indicate wealth and social strata. The tent is constructed and designed solely by women their architects.

Charles Guillain’s white parasol tent pitched adjacent to the house of Abd-el-Kour Somalia, 1856

Map showing the location of Tuareg groups and suggested axis seperating skin tents and mat-covered armatour tents. Drawing after Bernus 1981

25


Circles

Quotations of Aldo van Eyck

Playground Zaanhof by Aldo van Eyck, Amsterdam 1948

Aldo van Eyck’s Dogon Poem

After the Second World War, when the UN was established and the first peace­ keeping mission took place, Aldo van Eyck introduced his emblematic play­ grounds to the war torn and derelict Dutch cities. Dutch planners were facing a state

of emergency. This condition proved to an opportunity for Van Eyck to experiment with playfulness as an alter­native approach to the regimented city. Van Eyck was fascinated by archaic cul­ture. He travelled to the tribal areas 26

of Africa and to Mali, in particular to the Dogon. These cultures and spaces inspired Van Eyck to bring new forms to Dutch architecture and write architec­ ture poems. Here his abstract modern circle absorbed new tribal meanings.


Bricks

The Dogon Foundation

Brick production in the Dogon area, Mali 2015 Photo courtesy of the Dogon Foundation

Brick school in the Dogon area, Mali 2015 Photo courtesy of the Dogon Foundation

In the late 1950s, Dutch architect Joop van Stigt joined an expedition of Aldo van Eyck and Herman Haan to the tribal areas of the Dogon and the Tellem at the Bandiagara cliffs in Mali. This was the first of many trips he took to the area. In

the 1990s, together with his wife, Van Stigt set up a foundation doing smallscale interventions in Mali: the building of a dam, the digging of a well, and eventually the construction of a school. Currently, Joopâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s son, Jurriaan van Stigt, 27

continues the foundationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work, producing bricks and using local materials to build schools and other projects.


The Knife Cuts Two Ways

Rob de Vos interviewed by Malkit Shoshan

Impressions of the first Dutch embassy in Mali Photos courtesy of the Dutch Embassy in Bamako, Mali

Malkit Shoshan The Dutch embassy in Bamako, Mali opened relatively late. Why did the embassy open only in the 1990s? Rob de Vos The first diplomatic repre­ sentation started with the office of the Dutch volunteer organization, SNV. They had a large team on the ground in Mali. The Dutch government decided to open an office because there were more and more projects being financed in Mali. In the past, we had a special Sahel Pro­ gram for countries like Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Dutch involvement began after the drought of the 1980s, which at the time made an enormous impression worldwide. In Mali we started this office of Dutch aid, and a colleague named Arjan Hamburger did excellent ground work. My role then was to turn this office into an Embassy, with a staff that specialized in development cooperation. We had experts focusing on women’s develop­ ment, environmental issues and soil fertility.

The condition of the soil has always been an important driver for the Netherlands’ aid program. Our soil scientists are the best in the world. We founded a soil science institute in Mali, and you can find these institutes all over the world. It is not only about the quality of the soil, but also about organizing the ownership of the land, the property rights. This is one of the most crucial issues in develop­ ment programs in Africa: who owns the land? In Africa, it is tradi­tionally communal land. No one had the sole ownership of the land. MS What do you mean by communal land? In most places, including in the tribal areas of Mali, people in a commu­ nity know who owns what. They have their own system. What is the role of the external partner here? RdV There is a strong belief that to modernize agriculture in Africa, you need to work with clear title deeds and ownership, either on an individual, 28

community or land users level. Look at the position of women, for instance. In many cases, it is not clear who inherits the land after a farmer, a husband, dies. In my opinion, development aid has done a lot to stimulate the practice that in the end the wife can inherit the land. This does not only generate continuity of investment, but will also contribute to women empowerment and will strength­en their role in the community. These days, sexual reproductive and health rights is still one of the most important focus points of the Dutch foreign policy in Mali, together with water/food security, and the rule of law. The security and the rule-of-law program is focused on strengthening the position and role of individual citizens and their access to the justice system, and on reducing the gap between citizens and the govern­ment. MS The first embassy was called an ‘Aid Embassy’. What does that mean?


How was it different than other types of embassies? RdV In principle, there is no difference between embassies. The one in Mali began with a wish for development cooperation by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That is the reason we started diplomatic representation in Mali. In the Dutch system, development cooperation is integrated as much as possible with economic, political and cultural work. We do not have a separate aid agency, like the United States does, for instance. This demonstrates the integrated approach we take as the Netherlands. By the way, my title was Chargé d ‘Affaires, and I replaced the ambassador who was stationed far away in Senegal. Today, Mali is one of fifteen devel­ op­ment cooperation partner countries of the Netherlands. In implementing its development program, we seek align­ ment with Mali’s national strategy for economic growth and poverty reduction. The Netherlands plays a leading role i n aligning the programs of the various donors in Mali. Within its bilateral devel­ opment cooperation program, the Netherlands has pledged a total sum of €137 million. MS I read that in 1992, there were thirty-three large Dutch projects in Mali. These focused on food aid, market liberalization, debt relief and macro­ economics. Additionally, the food programs were very progressive and perhaps visionary. They were compre­ hen­sive in their approach, including building warehouses to store food, increasing field production of rice and cotton, improving rural infrastructure, and stopping soil degradation. These are very powerful and necessary developments that have a sense of urgency at the moment, perhaps more than ever. Can you share examples of their success and failure? RdV An example I particularly like is the Office of Niger. The Niger River has an inner delta and many old civilizations in Mali were located in that area. In the colonial days, the French wanted to build up an infrastructure of cotton production in the delta, so they started irrigation works, but this project was dependent on a quasi-forced labor system. The locals hated it, and it was abandoned after the colonial period. The French, the Dutch, and the World Bank then picked it up again and introduced a model of small-scale farming on a large area that was inspired by Chinese rice production and the Dutch expertise on managing water flows. The project took into account the tension that is always present in Africa between livestock keepers and agricul­ turalists. Many conflicts in Africa origi­

nate from tensions between the pastoralists and farmers who compete for the same resources. In the Office of Niger project, we tried to find a harmo­ nious relation between the two groups. The livestock keepers, the Fulani people (or Peul in French), were let in with their cattle to fertilize the ground after the rice was already harvested while at the same time their cattle were consuming the stems of what was left in the field. The knife cuts two ways: one got food, the others got fertilizer. This project turned Mali into an exporter of rice; before that they were an importer. That’s one of the best examples I have seen in Mali and in Africa that’s also very well documented, mind you. It’s important because it took place in the area between the north, where at the moment our military troops are, and the south, where the situation is more stable. MS Did the local population participate in this project? What did they gain? RdV The local producers were organized in cooperatives, and the overall board of the Office was a parastatal. These corporations are often linked to the production of sugar, cocoa, and cotton, and here in the Office it worked reasonably well. As a donor, we were strong in emphasizing up front the interests of the local farmers. I remember a fantastic event: one day we were called by the Malian Minister of Finance who informed us that the army had asked for rice to be imported from Vietnam to Mali. They claimed that they liked the Vietnamese rice better, and as donors of the project we were all very upset. We were investing millions to have a successful project, which it was; so we could not accept the import of rice to Mali from Vietnam. The army had to use the local one. Afterwards, the Minister told me that he needed our refusal, and our agony, to tell the chief of the army that he could not allow for the import of rice from Vietnam to the detriment of the local production. MS What would be then the key for successful development projects, what are the risks in the northern part of Mali? RdV It’s very difficult to intervene in these types of contexts. The ecology is very fragile, and there is animosity between various ethnic groups in Mali. Often, you find mistrust fueled by conflicts from the past. Now Mali faces an additional problem: the jihadists, who have become more influential in the Sahel region in the past few years. The Niger River is one of the most significant resources; it allows for transport, considering movement in the 29

desert is difficult. The limited availability of water is a challenge; local farmers’ vegetable gardens are hard to maintain. The unstable situation has led to unemployment, as people can’t carry out their jobs. It’s a great challenge to intervene as a donor in this region, like we did at the time of the Sahel famine. We explic­ itly tried to avoid only giving, and wanted to cooperate with locals in the projects. Today that seems obvious, but back then development was more a oneway street. For instance, we made a deal with the northern communities: we would provide food to their schools on the condition that they would provide firewood to the school’s kitchen to prepare it. Firewood is a precious good in the desert. We worked together to make it happen. Today, the Netherlands funds consortiums of Dutch organizations working with local partners. To improve governance and promote democracy, the Netherlands gives financial assis­ tance to human rights organizations, supports democratization and decen­ tralization in Mali, and contributes to the process of improving the management of public finances. MS Finally, let’s talk about buildings, about architecture. How do you set up an embassy? How do you choose a building? How do you lay it out and organize it? RdV In the case of Mali, we just bought an ordinary house. It had semi-local construction; it was made of concrete, but the shape looked like a local earth mud structure. At first, it was one house, but we grew in staff, and we needed more space, so we added another floor. At a certain moment, we also bought the house of the neighbor, and we put a corridor in between. I liked that it was improvised, that it was part of the life around it. There was a mud road leading to it. We had the sheep and goats of our neighbors in front of the embassy door. Next to it there was a huge tower that was never finished. The residence looked like a small villa. It created a lot of action on the street. In Mali, there are many market stalls on the street with people selling chewing gum, food, cigarette lighters, etc. We had a market around us. The life in Bamako was good. Although it’s a big city, it had the atmos­ phere of a village. The people are won­ derful. We still have friends there. I remember that the streets came to life at night; people were talking with each other all night long, and they liked to gather on the corner near our house. We felt fortunate because it was not an enclave but the real version of Africa!


The road with no name Marion de Vos

The road with no name leading to a dam in the river Niger could have been called River Road, Dam Road or Road of the mango trees, as the Delta was dotted with mango trees as far as the eye could see.

Every time I drove along that road, I wanted to linger in the fields, spread a blanket, sit under a tree watch the white sun make shapes and patterns, through dark foliage

I don’t know why, that road stuck in my memory, just an ordinary road, a road that everybody knew who called this place home. I knew that road too, though it ran through my nomad Home.

watch the people, laboring in the fields, curious naked children sneaking up to this alien white shape: in tennis clothes, lazing, in the heat of the day. They would extend dirty hands for baksheesh.

It ended abruptly at a bank, plunging down where the river, first broad and stately at Bamako, “the home of crocodile,” now pushed itself forth through ragged narrows.

Flies thirsty for moisture would search for the corners of eyes and mouth. Termites and ants with nasty stings crawl all over. Sharp stones under the blanket. torture.

A submersible bridge sitting on rocks in the middle of rapids with here and there slabs of cement in between leading seemingly to nowhere, had to be carefully negotiated and was used mainly for trade by foot.

Another Sting ran through my mind: “Many years have passed since those summer days among the fields of barley. See the children run as the sun goes down among the fields of gold” Perhaps fields of barley sounded like fields of Mali. Or that was what I wanted to hear and see that sun “in a jealous sky.”

And the river still had thousands of miles ahead through deserts, along mythical cities: Timbouctou, Mopti, Gao, Niamey, Lokoja before slowing down in that other Delta full of oil and sorrow.

My life was nothing like theirs, I never sat down in those “fields of gold” I had another life to live: take the short cut: on to the American Club, reach the river before the rains came, before the waters would run too high.

30


New World Embassy: Azawad Moussa Ag Assarid and Jonas Staal, 2016

The Revolution is Without Frontiers (2014), Moussa Ag Assarid. Border indication of the new state of Azawad

Imidiwan n Sahara Ibas negraw elhuria Ad nenmenak ghred nemda Megh annemat ibas nella Bas radjech tett dagh assahara My friends from the Sahara, our freedom is gone Let’s unite or else we shall all vanish Not a single soul will be left alive in the desert Tinariwen, Imidiwan Win Sahara (My Friends from the Sahara), 2011.

1. The Azawadian Revolution Azawad is a country north of Mali, about one and a half time the size of France in the region of the Sahara and the Sahel. It is a territory that is the home of many peoples, amongst others the Songhai, Fula, Arabs and the Kel-Tamasheq – “those who speak the language of Tamasheq” – better known as the Tuareg. After colonization under French rule at the end of the 19th century, the first revolts against the colonizer started. When in 1960 Mali gained independence with French support, the rebellions – led by the Tuareg – continued in 1963, 1990, 2006 and most recently, and most successfully, in 2012, when Tuareg fighters from the crumbling Gaddafi regime and deserted soldiers from the Malian state returned home with their weapons. Over the past four years we have been witnessing the formation of a new but unrecognized state, declared independent by a multi-ethnic coalition of Tuareg, Fula, Songhai and Arab 31

peoples gathered in the National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA). Azawad has and continues to face many conflicts since declaring independence. The MNLA has been confronted with jihadist groups on the territory such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Jihad and Unity in West-Africa (MUJAO), followed by the French Operation Serval and the international MINUSMA mission, led by former minister Bert Koenders, which includes 450 Dutch soldiers. We, the writers, come from very different political contexts: Azawad and the Netherlands. We are shaped by very different histories, but we both believe that the cultural and the political are fundamentally related, and that they mutually inform one another. This has formed the basis of our collaboration on the creation of the New World Embassy: Azawad; the first embassy of the unrecognized state of Azawad that operated on Dutch soil from September 6 to October 9 2014.


New World Embassy: Azawad (2014), Moussa Ag Assarid and Jonas Staal photo: Ernie Buts.

New World Embassy: Azawad (2014), Moussa Ag Assarid and Jonas Staal photo: Ernie Buts. View of the New World Embassy: Azawad: at the center, a table in the form of the new state of Azawad surrounded by a floorprint depicting neighboring states; in the back, a map of the state of Azawad; on the walls, a photo exhibition with impressions from the new state by Ag Assarid.

2. Embassy without a State Having travelled together in the new state of Azawad, we witnessed an old state turning into a new one: the Azawadian flag becoming the collective canvas, covering houses, signs, license plates, water towers and uniforms. In the context of national liberation, the creation of a state – contrary to colonial practices of occupation and administration – is first of all an act of cultural expression. What we saw were signs, symbols and historical narratives defended by artists and soldiers alike. Thus we witnessed the creation of a new state as something of a ‘collective work of art’: a horizon, an imaginary, of insurgent histories. This is why we created the first embassy of Azawad in a contemporary art space – BAK basis voor actuele kunst in Utrecht, the Netherlands. We considered BAK as the place where artistic and political struggle come together, and where we could make visible the global battlefield that brings Dutch soldiers to walk on Azawadian soil today. Now, one might ask: is the New World Embassy: Azawad a real embassy? Were visas or passports handed out? Did it have actual political power? Was it recognized by the state of the Netherlands? To those we would like to

ask a different question: is Azawad a real country, even though no other country acknowledges it? We would say that the reality of Azawad is the reality of its peoples. It exists because its peoples exist; Azawad exists through them, its heritage, its language, its shared histories, its images. So if an unacknowl­ edged country can be real, we would say its embassy can be real as well. In the months that the New World Embassy: Azawad operated in the Netherlands, hundreds of people visited its office; thousands read the interviews we gave and articles we published in Dutch media; and in the embassy, prominent politicians, diplomats, journalists and academics spoke with Ag Assarid around a table shaped in the form of the new state of Azawad. We would say that when it looks like an embassy, operates like an embassy and is recognized by its own peoples and the peoples of another country as an embassy, then it must be an embassy.

3. We, the Peoples While we are both engaged in politics, we are first of all both artists. We believe the New World Embassy: Azawad acknowledges the role of cultural struggle that lies at the foundation of political struggle. Before autonomy or independence must come the 32

Opening night of the New World Embassy: Azawad, with Moussa Ag Assarid (writer and political representative National Liberation Movement of Azawad, MNLA); Fathi Ben Khalifa (President World Amazigh Congress); politician Jasper van Dijk (Socialist Party, Netherlands); diplomat Jeroen Zandberg (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization); political scientist Jolle Demmers (Center for Conflict Studies, Utrecht University), a.o.

imaginary: in this case, the imaginary of a unified people, the imaginary of a new state and the imaginary of a new embassy. As our friend and comrade, revolutionary Tuareg-Songhai artist Mazou Ibrahim Touré has said: “The first thing is not to wait until others recognize you – other states, in this case. The first thing is to be confident of oneself, to understand that you represent something, because if you have not accepted and internalized that, then others will never recognize you.”1 The New World Embassy: Azawad is not a space of one state recognizing another, but of one peoples recognizing another. Art is the space of the imaginary that makes possible such a form of radical non-state diplomacy; to imagine a new world as we desire it to be, and not as it has been ascribed to us. We, the peoples of this world, decide upon our solidarities, recognition and friendship. The New World Embassy: Azawad is made in the spirit of a vision of a new world that takes that fundamental right of self-determination as its foundational principle. 1 Mazou Ibrahim Touré interviewed by Jonas Staal, with remarks by Moussa Ag Assarid, “I Was Needed, so I Became an Artist” in ed. Moussa Ag Assarid and Jonas Staal, New World Academy #4: The Art of Creating a State (Utrecht: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, 2014), P.94-5


Age of Experimentation Marcel Rot

An improvised watchtower

An improvised toilet

An improvised watch post

During the Cold War, the Netherlands army had little to no experience con­ structing military bases in mission areas. After the Berlin Wall fell the focus shifted to peacekeeping and peace-enforcing operations across the world, starting in Bosnia. The Dutch Army had to learn how to do this. Only a few people who had been in Lebanon (1979– 1985) had some experience. Other missions, like Indonesia and Korea, were too far in the past. The only civil engineering experi­ ence available was in laying or clearing

minefields, destroying bridges or building them. In Bosnia, the Dutch Army had to learn to construct bases and maintain them. There was so little knowledge that, literally, folders were picked up at the local hardware shop with tips along with tools on a wide ranges of topics. It was an age of experimentation, in which the Army had to re-invent itself. After a while, the Army realized that it needed more educated people and a kind of ‘center of excellence’ in military 33

constructions. This realization evolved into the Engineer Works Force, as it is today, where most people have a civil diploma in, for example, construction or energy management. Currently, new missions and the development of bases around the world are well planned and prepared. There are units with a focus on building, on maintaining and on tearing down military infrastructure. If knowledge and/or capacity is lacking, the Army use local contractors to assist.


Shopping for the Surreal Travis Bunt

Mazar-i Sharif, Afghanistan 22 July 2006

Throughout normal life, trips are delayed by things like weather, illness, or any number of perfectly normal interrup­ tions. In Northern Afghanistan, plans get cancelled by bicycle bombs exploding on the city block you were supposed to be headed to. Planning a shopping excursion takes on an entirely different character when one must wait for routes to turn from ‘black’ to ‘green’ on the tactical map. After four days of cancellations and delays, when it had become abun­ dantly clear that we would not be head­ ing out any time in the foreseeable future, my Ops Officer and I had our lunches interrupted by the news that we were cleared to go. In 45 minutes. Such is the miracle of the Army’s probability scale, where sure things never happen and 12% odds guarantee a go. Kudos to the appropriately named Commander Coolman for quickly round­ ing up a pair of Humvees and a Ranger pickup full of Afghan National Army sol­ diers. We managed to make it out of Camp Spann’s fortified gates at more or less the assigned time, despite some tech­ nical troubles with Army communi­ca­ tions gadgetry. Our first stop was at an appliance store, where one of our number needed to purchase refrigerators for the base’s makeshift exchange (open two hours a week and stocked with soap, shampoo, and everything else). Coincidentally, the shop happened to be on the very same block as the exploded bicycle from three days prior. I dutifully examined the wreck­age two doors down. It was as if the entire façade of the building had been ripped off by some belligerent Kong relative. Remnants of concrete beams hung limp at the ends of dangling rebar. Shards of glass filled the interior where streetwalkers combed the debris for salvageable bits. While the Coolman looked on, I queried Ramin (my interpreter, perma­ nent shadow, and self-proclaimed best friend in Afghanistan): “So this is where the bomb went off?” Ramin chatted for a moment with a somewhat-friendly looking transient taking refuge in the hulking shadow. He turned back to us, with a slight grin. “Actually, it is that building across the street where the bomb exploded… This building’s condition is their own fault.” …

About ten minutes later, the three of us were following a particularly enthusi­as­ tic sergeant into what appeared to be a swapmeet crammed inside a tenement house basement tossed inside a parking garage. Underneath a subway. Through steel grates above and below, the light patterns and noises from foot traffic informed us that whatever we were in, we were in the middle of many levels of it. On our left and right, vendors occu­ pied closet-sized cubbyholes, each cram­med so tightly with thousands of boxes of electrical paraphernalia they appeared wallpapered. Wandering this cacophonic maze while the sergeant debated the price of light bulbs, I turned a few corners and suddenly found myself outside on an idyllic side street. A couple of boys rode by on ancient bicycles, trailed on foot by a few others not so lucky. Old bearded men shuffled down the alley, pulling old wooden carts piled with watermelons. I stood there for a few minutes breathing in the scene, until deciding that my armored, camouflaged, weap­ onized self was demeaning it. It is an odd feeling engaging the surreal, espe­cially as you realize it is you who makes it that way. Ostensibly, we were there to instruct the Afghans on how to build a nation – or, more accurately, a bureauc­ racy capable of administering a nation. My assigned role, as a twenty-six-yearold Navy Lieutenant, was to establish a Public Works framework for one-seventh of the country, mentoring a former Mujahedeen Field General turned Facilities Management Officer on how to plan for and execute infrastructure improvements for tens of thousands of military and police troops and the hundreds of thousands of citizens they served. On top of those heady responsi­ bilities, I somehow had managed to inherit Camp Spann’s wood shop within fifteen minutes of first arriving on post (serves me right for asking where it was). With five local carpenters and a handful of apprentice soldiers, I had set out to expand the shop and put it to good use serving the Afghan Army, which, in turn, led to my roaming the back streets of Mez with a merry band of spacemen, looking to buy tools. The series of shopfronts that made up the hardware alley of Mazar-i Sharif brings to mind a farmer’s market, only with baskets of nails and door handles where one might expect tomatoes and cucumbers. Knock-off grinders and cir­ cular saws hung from overhead with Japanese brand names pasted upon their Chinese-made bodies.1 I imagined it would take hours to sift through the rows of wares, but my carpenter Monan guided us quickly through the bustling bazaar. Ignoring the colorful displays, he led us to a corner shop with a ‘trust­ 34

worthy owner’. While the Coolman chuckled in the background, I stepped around the store pointing. “Monan, how about this drill press? Real or fake? Real? Ok, we’ll take two.” I showed the shopkeeper two fingers and repeated in Dari: “du.” “These grinders? Japanese? Four. Char.” Helpers scurried out of the store and down the market street. Minutes later, a second drill press and a pair of Makita grinders appeared. “How many of these saws do you have?” Through Ramin, I heard his answer to be as many as I wanted. If I wanted forty saws, he would produce forty saws. I began to under­ stand the marvelous system before me. We wouldn’t have to visit any other store after all – anything we desired would be found and retrieved. Realization in hand, the Coolman and I took the opportunity to sit down on chairs that suddenly appeared for us. I could continue orches­trating from a comfortable seat. “Ramin, ask him to send someone to fetch Pepsi and cold water … we’ll just put it on the tab.” I found myself asking prices first out of habit, then out of curiosity, then not at all. I continued pointing and ordering until I had run out of power tools to point out. Then I let Monan col­ lect all the boring things – nails, hinges, bushings, sandpaper packs, and the like. Icy cans of soda were sent out to pleasantly surprised gunners, still outside atop the Humvees. The convoy commander had established a defensive perimeter around the hardware shop, and let us know we had twenty-five minutes remaining before the show would have to be put on the road (secu­ rity reasons, of course). The refresh­ ments arrived inside, as well, and in good time. The mercury read 120 degrees Fahrenheit, with no appreciable difference on either side of the store­ front door. As the shopkeeper began counting his career-making sale, he casually lit a cigarette and encouraged us to relax and do the same. Ramin and I obliged. The Coolman looked over from his semi-reclined position and laughed aloud at the scene we had painted. He was sipping Pepsi from a bright orange straw, as sweat poured from behind his extensive body armor. His M16 rifle leaned casually against his thigh, and over a million Afghani dollars rested inside the briefcase clipped to his chest.2 In similar regalia, I sat a few feet to his side chatting with Ramin and tossing occasional instructions for Monan. A cloud of cigarette smoke and shop dust hung above our heads, slight­ ly distorting the view of tightly packed carpentry paraphernalia on the ceilinghigh shelves. The dirty sunlight silhou­ etted an Afghan soldier standing watch at the door, AK47 just below the ready.


nside the woodshop, Qasir (L) assists his older brother Monan (R)

Zuman (on ladder) and carpentry team build out an IT room on the Afghan base. Junior enlisted Afghan soldiers assist as part of an apprenticeship program

From left to right: Travis, Qasir, Zuman, Rahim, Monan, Shop Guy, Ramin, Kasim

Benches and tables stack up outside of the woodshop. They will go to fill dozens of brand new classroom and office spaces built for the Afghan Army – for which no furniture had been requisitioned (a small planning oversight)

It took the better part of an hour for our tab to be counted. 120,000 Afghani – just under $2,500 USD, for three carbon copy pages worth of power tools and shop supplies. Soldiers and shopkeepers scurried about, filling the ANA pickup with our extensive purchase as we fired up the parallel-parked Humvees. With shopping over for the time being, I negotiated the Mazar traffic, snaking

westward through the evening crowds towards home (such as it were). Excerpted and adapted from the memoir, A Life Away: Letters from Afghanistan (2014).

1 Monan’s rough scale of value is as such: American/German > Japanese > Chinese, and is entirely based on his own evaluation of how long a tool lasts before needing replacement parts and how “fixable” they are. A Bosch or DeWalt may be incredibly expensive, but a good Afghan mechanic could keep one running

35

for a lifetime. Chinese tools are seen as essentially dis­ posable, good for taking to a distant jobsite because you didn’t have to worry about lugging them home. Local versions don’t quite make the scale, rather they create an entirely different category. Afghan tools are Kafka­ esque composites of things used to be parts of other tools and random pieces of material picked off the scrap heap. On one jobsite, I witnessed a local handy­ man repairing a metal fence with a homemade TIGwelder that consisted of (for best I could see) a dusty wooden crate, a large coil of wire, a spiraling web of dozens of smaller wires, and several battery cables. 2 About $20,000 USD


Among Soldiers

Arnon Grunberg

“The future we saw as belonging to us, a thing contested by no one, the war as a tempestuous prelude to happi­ ness, and happiness itself as a part of our character,” wrote Isaac Babel in one of his stories about the Soviet-Polish War of 1920. War, that tempestu­ous prel­ ude to happiness, had eluded me so far. The wrong time, the wrong place, the same old story. Yet fate is pliable. At one thirty on a midsummer Tuesday afternoon I made my way to the Eindhoven airbase, from where I would fly to Kabul. Then to Kandahar. And per­ haps on to Tarin Kowt, depending on the security situation, as the defense depart­ ment put it. The ‘security situation’, a term open to interpretation. I was not going as a soldier, not even as a spiritual adviser; after having been declared unfit for duty at the age of eighteen, that would have been too much to hope for. A psychiatrist had written a letter, and a few weeks later I was notified that the Kingdom of the Netherlands would not call upon me, not even in times of war. I was traveling as an ‘embedded journalist’. What ‘embedded’ meant was as yet unclear, and calling me a ‘journalist’ was rather dubious. But, like ‘security situation’, ‘journalist’ is a term open to interpretation. … After half an hour the outbound soldiers – army, air force and military police – separated themselves from those who were to be left behind. The men and women in desert-colored uniforms walked with me to the check-in desk. Those military personnel in uniforms more suited for service in the rainforest remained behind. I was the only person in line not in uniform. No, not the only one. A young man in civilian dress, a journalist for the regional broadcaster in Overijssel Province, was going to Afghanistan as well. ‘I’m planning to talk mostly to soldiers from Overijssel,” he told me. “What’s your angle?” My angle. That I was going along to experience that tempestuous prelude to happiness seemed better left unsaid. “The person behind the soldier,” I mum­ bled. That always worked, the person behind. The boarding area where we found ourselves was no different from board­ ing areas at other airports. Normal air­ ports, from which people left on holiday. War, though, is a kind of holiday as well. As one soldier in Afghanistan would tell

me later: “It sounds weird, but I relax here.” “With us it’s just like with Ryanair,” Captain Cynthia said. “The first one in gets the best seat.” … I ended up at last beside a real Dutch solider, Tinus, who after an hour’s silence asked: “What are you going to do in Afghanistan?” “I’m going to try to understand the mission,” I whispered, whereupon Sergeant Jordy, sitting in the row in front of us, joined in the conversation. The sergeant held up a wedge of cheese, as though it were the spoils of war. “Why are you taking cheese to Afghanistan?” I asked. “Because I love cheese,” the sergeant said. “I’ve got enough with me for the first few weeks, and after that they’re going to send me more from Holland. I told everyone, my girlfriend, my family, my friends: “Just send cheese.” In Afghanistan it melts, but that doesn’t matter; it’s vacuum-packed anyway. You just put it in a refrigerator and it gets hard again. After that all it needs is a good whack and it’s back in shape.” “Have you been to Afghanistan before?” I inquired. “Twice,” the sergeant said, “but this time I brought a cheese-slicer.” He grinned triumphantly. Then, as though relating confidential information, he said: “Once they find out you have cheese, everyone wants a piece. But if you let them cut the cheese with a pocketknife, it’s gone before you know it. This time I brought a cheese-slicer, so everyone gets a thin slice, you know what I mean? So this time they won’t eat all my cheese right in front of me.” I felt a fondness for this Sergeant Jordy, who would not enter Afghanistan unprepared. For the first time on this trip I sensed that my hunch had been right. I was going to find out something about the happiness that had eluded me all these years. A few hours later, Captain Cynthia arranged for me to sit beside LieutenantColonel Nico. An army marches on more than cheese-slicers alone. LieutenantColonel Nico is a tall, athletically-built man of around forty, but you could only mistake him for a gym teacher if you didn’t look carefully. He commands a tank battalion. He was going to Afghanistan, however, without his tanks. The men of the ‘PRTs’ are recruited from within the tank battalions. PRT stands for Provincial Reconstruction Team. The army exists by virtue of abbreviation. Rarely have I picked up as many abbreviations as during my stay in Afghanistan. ‘Lupa’ is a lunch packet, ‘detco’ a detachment commander. The amount of time that saves is staggering. From now on, 36

happiness would be just plain ‘hap’. Lieutenant-Colonel Nico had always been an idealist, and that hadn’t changed. He had originally joined the army because the Russians were coming. Within two hours, he and his tanks could be at the former East German border. He had aerial photos to show where each tank was to be positioned. Everything was laid out, down to the last square inch. But the Russians never showed up. Lieutenant-Colonel Nico speaks of tanks with such sincere affection that I began loving them as well. I discovered that a tank can be as much a thing of beauty as a well-written novel. Nico said: “If it hadn’t been for that cabinet crisis, maybe we’d be going to Iraq right now. When you’ve been training all the time, at some point you want to find out how good you are at the real thing. When you write all the time, at some point you want to find out what your book does to an audience, right?” I nodded in complete under­standing. That was certainly something I wanted to find out, and I could imagine that he wanted to find that out as well. No more practicing anymore, time for the real thing at last. Maybe that’s the problem with literature: it never becomes the real thing. At least not entirely. “But don’t you find it a pity that you’re being sent to Afghanistan to talk?” I asked. Lieutenant-Colonel Nico had told me that the PRTs would mostly talk to the Afghanis. Talk till they were blue in the face. Reconstruction is a matter of end­ less conversation. Of gaining the people’s confidence, or, as the official phrase goes: “winning hearts and minds”. For a person who has seen the beauty in a tank, who had actually con­ vinced me that a tank is more beautiful than the Virgin Mary, that could not be an easy assignment. But the lieutenantcolonel kept a stiff upper lip. He and his men were looking forward to the mis­ sion, even without their tanks. “And what about Srebrenica?” I asked, because I didn’t want the con­ versation to peter out, not yet, I wanted to go on, on with the tanks across the plains of Germany. “Is that still a trauma?” The lieutenant-colonel shook his head. “Not for these boys,” he said. “If there’s one thing they have no inten­ tion of being, it’s cowards. Back before seatbelts were mandatory, scads of people were killed in traffic accidents. Everyone thought that was normal. Would a fireman refuse to go into a burning building just because there’s a chance that he might not come out alive?” Now I knew why he didn’t look like a gym teacher. Everywhere the lieutenantcolonel turned, he saw death creeping up on him. He was braced for the


Dutch cheese-slicer

ambush. That’s how he’d looked at me as well, like an ambush. “Did your wife take you to the airport?” I asked. “No,” the lieutenantcolonel said. “That’s always a bad idea. I have a buddy who’s in the army too. When he goes, I take him to the airport. When I go, he takes me. I say goodbye to my family at home. It’s not fair to them to do that, to drag them along to the airport like that.” I nodded, thinking about the little boy dressed up like a soldier who had

been running around the departure hall. “It’s getting dark,” Nico said. “That goes pretty quickly now. I’m going to catch a few winks.” I wondered whether the lieutenantcolonel really would catch a few winks, and if he did whether he would dream about Afghanistan, or still about the plains of Germany. And about his tanks, which would be at the former East German border within two hours. Not as a man­ eu­ver this time, but the real thing. Maybe the Russians would show up anyway. You 37

can never tell. Anything is possible. The world may smell of the abattoir, but the air force KDC-10 smelled of cheese. “I’m going to try to catch a little sleep too,” I whispered. I went back to my seat. Sergeant Jordy had his eyes closed. In his left hand he was clutching an iPod. Excerpts from Literary Journalism Studies, originally NRC Handelsblad, May 1, 2010. At: www.arnongrunberg.com/chapters/363 (accessed 16 February 2016).


Past Lives

David Turnbull

A dream: it’s early morning, Autumn – the sun is rising, the air is crisp, the leaves on the trees are turning goldenbrown. I am sitting at my desk in the bay window of the raised ground floor of a friend’s house on Regent’s Park Road, North London, drinking a cup of freshly percolated coffee. It is quiet – a few people in dark clothes, vaguely outlined, are to be seen walking up Primrose Hill to take in the view. The city is waking up. I am reading a recently published translation of the Greek Historian Polybius’ Histories. Last night, with friends visiting from Paris, an exhilarating and wide-ranging conversation included: semi-seriously, the recent death of Wilkie Collins; frivolously, the opening of the Moulin Rouge; ecstatically, the Exposition Universelle, with the spectacular Eiffel Tower; the astonishing Galerie des Machines, the extravagant display of a collection of four hundred indigenous people from around the world; and finally, recent archeological work on the site of the Roman colonial town of Timgad in Algeria, in French Colonial North Africa. Discovered just over eight years ago, buried under the sand, this town is now regarded as exemplary, and subject to a massive operation of discovery and recuperation. It is 1889. In August, the British Forces in Sudan defeated the Mahdi, redeemer of the Islamic World, Muhammed Ahmad’s army at the Battle of Toski. The Mahdi has called for Jihad against the Turks. In a month the first purpose-built Mosque in England, the Shah Jahan Mosque, founded by Professor Gottfried Wilhelm Leitner, whose adopted Muslim name is Abdur Rasheed Sayyah, will open in Woking. Today could be a remarkable day. I love mornings, particularly the almost eternal slow-time between dawn and breakfast. I am captivated by Polybius’ eye-witness accounts of the Punic Wars, the clashes of Hannibal and Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, and in particular the Siege of Carthage. He lived from around 200 – 118 BCE, and the Histories cover the period from 264 – 146 BCE in detail. The translation that I am reading is by Evelyn Shuckburgh, though based on an earlier version by one F. Hultsch. It was published by Macmillan, here in London and simultaneously in New York; a sign of the times. The book has drawn a lot of interest in my circles, not in the least because in Book VI, Polybius describes how a ‘Camp’, Castrorum Metatio, is set up. He is also particularly clear about how the Camp

plan relates to a Town plan, which I am fascinated by. I was born near Noviomagus Reginorum, a Roman walled town that was renamed Chichester; a ‘Chester’ by the Saxons, a ‘Castrum’ with major streets, north to south and east to west intersecting at a Medieval Market Cross and the remains of the East Gate marking the terminus of a Roman Road leading directly to London. Roman oyster beds could be found in the estuaries of Chichester Harbor, and the surrounding landscape was known to have been a Roman Army supply base during the Claudian invasion in 43 CE. I learnt the structure of a Roman Town at school, and walked the Cardo and Decumanus daily, tracing ancient history with my footsteps. In the classroom we made rather naive drawings imaginatively recalling the ‘occupation’. Yesterday’s discussion about the dig at Timgad resonated. My Parisian friends were rather thoroughly exercised by the excitement surrounding the Exposition that, among other things, was revealing to millions of visitors the extent of the French colonial expansion in Africa. They found the discovery of Roman remains particularly intriguing. It was clear that in relation to this national project of expansion, archeology was instrumental; an opportunity for France to declare a position, revealing the impact of Roman colonial ‘civilization’ as parallel to their own and distinct from the local Muslim traditions and forms. A glorious past: mathematics, precision, clarity, spatial hierarchy, sophistication, geometrical and societal order contrasted with the present dilapidated, ad hoc, haphazard and insalubrious arrangements. They saw that ‘Romanization’ could be presented as a weapon, and it was, as it had been at the time of Trajan with the case of Timgad, which was founded in 100 CE. But even before, in the Republican period of the Roman Empire, nearby Towns were established over and over again to exploit captured territory, dominate local populations and preserve peace. The Town, like the Camp, was an apparatus, a construct of the war-machine. As I read Polybius, I realized the importance of his simple statement made toward the end of a long and detailed account of the organizational principles of campmaking: “The result of these arrangements is that the whole camp is a square, with streets and other constructions regularly planned like a town.” The Camp and the Town, elegantly illustrated by Polybius’ description and the newly discovered site at Timgad, are like mirror images of one another – neither a prerequisite for the other but rather, a simultaneity. The Camp is a Town, and the Town is a Camp. 38

1963: twenty-two months after the completion of the Berlin Wall, the President of the USA, John F. Kennedy is in the city to give a speech: “Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was ‘civis romanus sum’. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’ … All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’” My family gathered around the television to watch, to listen, to marvel, in black and white. President Kennedy is widely admired – it is just a decade since the Festival of Britain closed, and nine years since the end of wartime rationing. I am twelve years old and reading a wonderful book at home, given to me by my Uncle: From Ur to Rome by Kathleen M. Gadd, from 1936. I love it. At school I am struggling with Marcus Tullius Cicero’s In Verrem in our compulsory Latin classes… That I hate, primarily because my teacher: a) smells bad and b) is boring, in that order. I also have to go to ‘Sunday School’ and this autumn we are reading ‘The Acts of the Apostles’ from the New Testament out loud. I try to avoid this if I can. There are things that I like to do, and things that I do not. I want to be free to choose, but more often than not that freedom is conditional. I understand that Paul, the Apostle resisted arrest and created a very difficult situation for the arresting officer in the case of Paul v. Caesar by invoking ‘civis romanus sum’. It was Cicero who proposed the formula, but I wonder how free those Roman citizens were; what freedom actually felt like and what was to become of all the people associated with the Roman Empire who were not Roman or free in any sense. As I listened to JFK I wondered what life inside the walled city of West Berlin would be like with all those guards, the guns and the barbed wire. I would be a teenager soon. My parents had witnessed the Blitz – my mother had been evacuated, my father spent time happily chasing the V1 ‘doodle-bug’ flying bombs that missed London as they screeched overhead, dropping into the fields near Winchester; another ‘Chester’, a ‘Castrum’. In 1960, excavations started at Fishbourne, the site of a Roman Palace, near my home. The evidence revealed so far showed me that ‘civis romanus sum’ could be very good for some, but that for many, a posting in Britania was not so great. Conditions were harsh, and the weather and the Britons conspired to make life difficult. What would become Northern Europe was even more hostile. On the other hand, after the Punic Wars, North Africa – from the coast of the Mediterranean to the edges of the Sahara Desert – could be rewarding for


Timgad, the remnants of a Roman colonial town in Algeria

Back to back with the equites extra­ ordinarii are the infantry of the same, facing the agger at the rear of the whole camp. And the space left empty on either side of these, facing the agger on each side of the camp, is given up to foreigners and such allies as chance to come to the camp. The result of these arrangements is that the whole camp is a square, with streets and other constructions regularly planned like a town. Between the line of the tents and the agger there is an empty space of two hundred feet on every side of the square, which is turned to a great variety of uses. To begin with, it is exceedingly convenient for the marching in and out of the legions. For each division descends into this space by the via which passes its own quarters, and so avoids crowding and hustling each other, as they would if they were all collected on one road. Again, all cattle brought into the camp, as well as booty of all sorts taken from the enemy, are deposited in this space and securely guarded during the night-watches. But the most important use of this space is that, in night assaults, it secures the tents from the danger of being set on fire, and keeps the soldiers out of the range of the enemy’s missiles; or, if a few of them do carry so far, they are spent and cannot penetrate the tents. From: The Histories of Polybius (London: Macmillan, 1889), translated from the text of F. Hultsch by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh.

many in previously unimaginable ways; a dream that could come true. Today: In dreams, time collapses. In the past, both Vitruvius and Alberti had recognized the advantages of a combination of prospects in siting a town: Outside: a coastal plane or river valley, with fertile, abundant land protected from behind by mountains, hills or desert; territories that are extremely difficult to traverse, a setting that is easy to defend. Inside: orderly arrangements for a complex stratified society and the rule of law. Timgad was founded as an ideal; textbook ‘late’ Roman town planning. A perfectly regular orthogonal carpet with square blocks laid over an uneven topography with occasional discontinuities, interruptions that mark institutional importance or accept geo-physical irregularity. The Decumanus Maximus, lined with columns, runs through this carpet, uninterrupted from East to West. An honorific arch marks the primary western entrance to the town. The Cardo, North-South, terminates in the Forum, which is, in turn associated with the Amphitheatre, set into a hill facing west; an extraordinary ensemble, presenting a haunting tableau. It is not surprising that the French archeologists were so enthusiastic about this find, or that French national interests might appropriate it as an embodiment of correctness, civic pride and civilization in a war against others who did not share their convictions. Most commentators, however, Colin Rowe included, celebrate the fact that Timgad 39

outgrew its foundational plan, that the orthogonal arrangements were abandoned in subsequent phases, and that many of the institutional structures and building types that could not be accommodated inside the walls are freely distributed in the landscape beyond; a bricolage. I would agree: I neither wish to reify the orthogonal for its own sake. My purpose here is different: to uncover the instrumentality of the Camp-Town assemblage. As with the relationship of chickens to eggs, argument about which comes first can be set aside. It is clear that we cannot have one without the other. What is at stake is the use to which they are put.

Drawing of a Camp as described by Polybius


BLUE: Design for Legacy There are about 170 UN peacekeeping bases located in rapidly growing cities in the Sahel. These compounds are there to accommodate UN personnel while they conduct missions. In order to not put additional pressure on scarce local resources, bases mostly provide their own water and electricity. They have basic infrastructure – a hospital, power plant, and waste treatment plant. The camps are rapidly built and are designed to operate as self-sufficient entities that have little need for interaction with their urban environments. On the other side of their fences are the cities, which are mostly expected to multiply in size over the next twenty years. Many of these cities already struggle to provide residents with regular access to water and electricity. They have shortages of both food and housing. If armed conflicts and militarization continue to escalate in the region, resources will become even more scarce. Design for Legacy aims to intro­duce architectural and design thinking into the plan­ ning and construction of UN peacekeeping bases. Currently engi­neered like machines with no civic or communal values, they could provide essential support for local popu­lations and leave behind a sustainable physical legacy that is beneficial to the develop­ment and stability of the local commu­nity once the mission is completed. The UN itself talks about ‘Guide­lines for the Integrated Approach’ – bringing together Defense, Diplomacy, and Development. What if we added a fourth ‘D’, for Design? Architectural and urban design knowledge can bring together scales, disciplines, and stakeholders. By incor­porating participatory practices, these could become important instru­ments for mission planning. It could help to gener­ate alternative visions for the future of these areas and work towards a positive legacy. In the end, the mission will be gone, but infrastructure, resources, and knowledge will remain behind with the local populations.

Four Steps for Sharing Space Malkit Shoshan

Sharing space: four steps Below is a four-step process that describes how a UN base can gradually open up and share resources and knowledge with local populations. The four stages are linked to security regimes. These exchanges aim to empower the local population so that they can reconstruct and strengthen their own environment.

1. Exchange A first interaction with the community during the construction phase of the base is important. In an uncertain security environment, relationships should be established at the start that facilitate knowledge exchange and carefully managed economic exchange, with some local sourcing. In this first exchange, UN forces should address local urgencies wherever and whenever possible.

2. Interface The periphery of the base can act as an interface with the local environment if the right precautions are taken, even with relatively high threat levels. Here the civilian population can receive medi­ cal treatment and have access to water, food and electricity. Inside the base, infrastructure such as water, electricity and sewage could be developed with legacy in mind. The physical organization of the base could be designed so that it takes into account the future growth of the city and allow for an easy transformation of the base from being used by the UN to local inhabitants – from both an organizational and a technical point of view.

3. Shared space Whenever possible, a shared space be­tween the city and the base should be devel­oped. This could be where UN peace­ keepers and the local community develop and execute projects together. Here resources, education, trade, employ­­ment and cultural facilities could be de­signed to bring the locals and the UN together. This area should be visually attractive, taking into consideration local 40

culture. It could contribute to the establishment of a safe and secure environment for the local population as well as for the UN troops. The shared space should be developed gradually and in collaboration with the local com­ munity. It could be considered a hub and as a catalyst for local development. By supplying resources and making knowledge available, local inhabitants can become empowered to develop their environment themselves. Schools and workshops could experi­ment with the production of resources by com­ bining do-it-yourself solutions with both smaller and larger scale infrastructural production and mainte­nance. Spatial practices developed in the shared space could be replicated both in the city and on base.

4. Post-mission At the end of the mission, the base should be handed over to the local popu­lation, and become an integral part of the city. Since bases have been developed with the idea of legacy in mind and have incorporated local tech­ niques, the structures should leave behind valuable resources for the city.


1. Exchange

2. Interface

3. Shared Space

4. Post-mission

41


A speculative financial and socio-economic model for evaluating and enhancing international peace­keeping missions Joel van der Beek

The UN compound of the future should enable peacekeeping missions to have a more sustainable and beneficial effect on the lives of people of the regions where they operate. In view of this vision, we have developed a speculative model that can be implemented in every peacekeeping mission. In this model we elaborate on the role that peacekeeping missions could play in the socioeconomic sphere. The model entails three socio-economic elements while respecting the sovereign state: creating opportunities via the market space, ensuring that trading partners and principles are aligned, and building for the future through sustainable investments and capacity building. Peacekeeping missions follow periods of severe violent conflict. They arrive to a scene that can be charac­ter­ ized by national instability, a weakened position of national authority and having human lives at stake. The nation-state is exhausted by the costs of the conflict and is sinking into regressive relation­ ships with other countries. Peace­ keeping missions aim at restoring peace, safety, stability and basic conditions to rebuild society. Safety and stability are key words related to UN missions and humanitarian interventions. These concepts can be interpreted not just in a military sense, but can also be applied in a socioeconomic sense. ‘War and famine. Peace and milk,’ is a Somali proverb that serves as the motto for Economists for Peace and Security.1 It reflects the relation between violent conflict and economics. Although the causal connection between poverty and war remains a question, the combination of the two is of an explosive nature. It is here where the military aspect of the UN inter­ vention urges to be supplemented by economics for rebuilding the sovereign state and avoiding colonialism. The UN compound can be seen as an abundance of power and possi­bili­ ties, compared to its poor, destabilized and disintegrated surroundings. In our view, the UN compound of the future might allocate its opportunities already present in the current model beyond the direct military range of activities. This would be done with the objective to be

socially supportive in bringing stabili­ zation, promoting integration and building for the future. Peacekeeping missions could play a role in the socio-economic sphere. They offer once in a lifetime opportu­ nities from the local point of view. They involve a substantial influx of investment and activities, often massive in compari­ son with the local situation that is char­ ac­terized by severe shortages. This unique opportunity should be seized. Safeguarding the socio-economic conditions might improve the local safety situation and prevent it from slipping deeper down. Although the start of a peacekeeping mission is characterized by urgency and focus on the military aspects, there is support from Civic Military Cooperation (CIMIC). It would pay off to include additional socio-economic elements based on a picture of the local economy and social structures that were in place before the conflict and on a need-based assess­ ment of the situation at the time of the inter­vention. After all, the damage of wars to society is immense and long lasting. In situations of shortages, chaos and insecurity, solutions should be efficient, adequate and well structured, with regards to both the short and long term. Therefore, it is important to realize that the space for peacekeeping missions is not unlimited. Although the border with humanitarian aid has become blurred, there has to be a clear distinction between peacekeeping missions and the civic international scene. Military organizations are good for the resolution of violent conflict, whilst the local private and public sector, assisted by international aid, is good at restoring a positive socioeconomic reality. There is a great risk when aid becomes an instrument in the military agenda: namely, aid loses its neutrality and its role as last resort. The proposed model consists of three elements. The key principles are based on how a sustainable transfer of resources, finance, knowledge, and skills can be realized between the peace­keeping mission and the local community in order for it to be construc­ tive for the community and to induce minimal risk for society to relapse into war.

1. Market Space It is very valuable to develop the local economy. The peacekeeping mission can help rebuild the economy and society with its purchasing power; by having local resources involved in constructing and operating the com­ pound and the mission. As conflict erodes the local economy, employment falls, entrepreneurship becomes a 42

hardship, the black market boosts prices and original economic structures become weak, or absent. War has a discouraging effect on investments. The purchasing power of the peacekeeping mission may stimulate a revitalization of the local economy and society. During the operations of the UN mission or humanitarian intervention, a market space could be established to bridge the distance between the UN compound and the local economy. This market space should be located in-between the civic and the military space. It would allow maximal local involvement while keeping the military zone safe and secured. As many of the assets within the compound are, or can be made, mobile; construction, repair and maintenance could be done in the market space using local capacity. Currently, due to security issues, the exchange of goods and services between the two systems is low. The market space could bridge this gap.

2. Financial ringfencing2 The acquisition of local resources by peacekeeping missions should be done in a way that it helps, instead of further disrupting, the local situation. Prices paid and volumes purchased on the local market should keep pace with local conditions. By paying sustainable prices and buying sustainable volumes, the peacekeeping mission will have a constructive influence on the local economy. When hiring local labor, the paying of extraordinarily high wages creates unbalance and social tensions, and might even have an adverse effect on getting what the mission needs. The same holds for volumes purchased and prices paid for local products and raw materials. Financial ring fencing as part of the mission, would help preventing a further collapse of the local economy by identifying certain type of resources that can be given back to it. The case of the international reaction upon the 2010 Haiti earthquake exposed that massive international support entails the risk of the local society collapsing after aid. In the case of Haiti, inhabitants could no longer afford the skyrocketing rents for housing in Port au Prince. The influx of food, medical supplies and staff completely crowded out and crushed what had survived the earthquake. Large parts of the local private sector and the local employment did not survive the humanitarian ‘tsunami’ and pushed Haiti back into a position of dependency.

3. Local Development Fund The market space will allow the peacekeeping mission to increase its local purchase. All over the Sahel region, local purchases and local labor will be at


A diagram for BLUE socio-economic model.

relatively low unit prices compared to international standards, which UN budgets are based on. The difference between the local wage, paid to local labor involved in the peacekeeping mission, and the international standard should be used to establish a fund. This fund should help finance building up the local economy and society, create employment, build up capacity, and reestablish entrepreneurship. In this way the peacekeeping mission can help to rebuild the economy and society by funding local initiatives, both in the private and in the public domain. Part could be used as revolving fund to stimulate private entrepreneurship through microcredit, and part could be used as grant money for long-term investments in utilities or infrastructures. In this way the investment gap caused by the war can be partially compensated for and the UN mission can be supportive in setting up conditions for a local society to foster. Ownership of the fund should be kept with the peacekeeping mission, but a local civic assembly should decide

about the allocation of this fund. Investments should be restricted to civic utilities, thereby including adequate reserves for repair and maintenance. The investments should be implemented on short notice, so that staff of the peacekeeping mission can coordinate the implementation and support with equipment. A maximum of local resources would be allocated. Financial control and project management should remain within the staff of the peacekeeping mission. Design and construction works, including labor and building materials, would be paid directly by the project management. An advantage of this â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;in kindâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; character is its low risk of corruption. A good example of this would be the establishment of an institute for Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET). The construction works on buildings could serve as practice for the students. Conflict creates a defector risk for each individual that collaborates with the peacekeeping mission. This model reduces this risk for the individual local contractor. Also the investment has 43

a relatively neutral image as the civic assembly has all the decisive power and ownership. The design of the compound should be such that apart from serving a military function, it is cost efficient and that its footprint is not negative, but rather either neutral or positive. This condition should be met during the compoundâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s phases of construction, operation and decommissioning. The three elements of the model could be instrumental in providing the local community with a positive legacy that goes beyond the military interpretation of safety and stability. This speculative evaluation and enhancement model for peacekeeping missions is an invitation for further research of how to improve vulnerable economies. 1 Economists for Peace and Security is a UNregistered NGO promoting economic analysis and appropriate action for peace, security and the world economy. 2 Ring fencing is a term used in finance, referring to the separating or walling off of assets in order to protect them from creditors, specific taxation or regulations.


Designing for Legacy: an anthropological perspective Erella Grassiani

It is important to understand the legacy of peace operations in war torn countries around the world and how to direct it to more positive, humanitarian ends. If we hope to influence the legacy of peace operations in the Sahel, critical questions must be asked; questions which raise concerns, open up debates and problematize issues that are (mis­tak­enly) taken as simple, straightforward facts.

Issues of context One of the central ideas within any anthropological work is the extreme importance of including contexts in our investigations. These contexts can be social, political or historical, for exam­ ple. Understanding how people perceive their own social reality and the meaning they give to it involves interpreting people’s behavior and their words within the different, complex contexts they live in. Hence the important question to ask when trying to understand how to ‘design for legacy’ is to ask about contexts: what is the background and setting (in a broad sense) in which the people involved live in and understand their lives? What is the historical context of the place and, for example, the vio­ lence people are facing? We should ask the difficult questions about colonial legacies in many countries where today peace missions are present. In order to grasp this setting of multiple contexts, I believe deep, ethnographic and his­ torical research is needed. This will help us see and understand if people want to be helped and in what way they will want us to do that. I believe it is extreme­ ly important to involve the people living in places that are touched by the pres­ ence of military or peace forces in our efforts to improve their lives.

Complexities of concepts as ‘the locals’ The most logical thing to do when we want to know what the local population’s needs are is indeed to go and talk to these ‘locals’. However, this is more com­ plicated that it sounds. Related to the former issue of context, we need to under­ stand the complexities of the societies we visit – their power structures, internal conflicts and gender relations, just to name a few central issues – in order to start to grasp how these societies work and what their needs are. Coming from the West we tend to talk to ‘spokes­

persons’, power holders or village headmen, but do they really speak for all? Are there other voices we should listen to? We should then, whenever pos­ si­ble, pay attention to multiple voices, to the power relations and agendas of the people we speak to. Furthermore, I believe it to be of utmost importance to understand how people feel about the presence of foreign forces near their dwellings; how does it affect them, do they support or criticize the pres­ ence, are they afraid of it?

Conflict/post-conflict complexities The places where peace operations take place are by definition touched by war and violence, and often, these wars are accompanied by environmental crises such as droughts. We often assume that, ideally, when foreign peace missions leave, they leave behind a more peace­ ful place, a situation of post-conflict perhaps. From an anthro­pological per­ spective however, concepts of peace, conflict and post-conflict are highly problematic. Not because we are pessi­ mists, but because from our detailed and grounded research we have learned over the years how misleading these terms can be. ‘Peace’ seems to mean so many different things to different people, and often we mistake an official, formal ‘peace’ that is based on a paper agreement with signatures of key men and women with the ‘on the ground’ reality. We should ask ourselves what such ‘peace’ means for people living in these places, which are now supposedly peaceful or in a state of post-conflict? When looking more closely, we can almost always see that peace agree­ments practically don’t mean anything for the people most affected by war, who live in poverty and have to deal with daily violence. Perhaps the perpetrators are different, but people are still deprived from a real peaceful living environment. People who have faced war and violence often for decades will perhaps be afraid of these other foreign uniformed people and this new ‘military’ camp suddenly arising. We have to consider their ideas, fears and also their hopes. Importantly, peace is not the complete opposite of war and we should carefully think about what it means for people themselves. We should keep this in mind when thinking about the legacies of peace missions and trying to support people who have experienced war, violence and deprivation. What we also should consider are the different categorizations used within discourse on conflict and war. In public debate, people tend to use essentializing categories such as ‘ethnic conflicts’

44

or ‘religious violence’, which are very misleading. Such catego­ri­zations simplify the experience of people and the backgrounds of violent conflicts. We need to understand that such con­ cepts are constructs and tell a certain story, often one that is far from the truth and one that misses the indispensable contexts within which conflicts, wars and violence takes place.

Development? Finally, I believe we have to take a criti­ cal look at the idea of ‘helping’ the other, of so-called ‘development’. Within anthro­pology this term has for years been used but also heavily scrutinized. Who are we to come and ‘help’ others, in far away places? What does develop­ ment mean, what do we want to develop and towards what do we want to devel­ op it? One of the most important ques­ tions to ask is according to whose standards are we developing in the first place. This brings me to my earlier points of understanding the context in a deep way and understanding what people themselves see as positive developments and needs for their com­ munity. We should realize that many of our ideas about welfare, wealth, and happiness are ethnocentric in nature and show a very specific, western meaning of these concepts. Thus we have to be sensitive to the language and concepts used by people them­ selves and especially to the way they give meaning to their needs, hopes and dreams.

Conclusion It is important to ask anthropological and critical questions in the context of the Design for Legacy project. With this project we aim to better and improve lives of people who are touched on all kinds of levels not just by war and violence but also by the sudden pres­ ence of foreign peace keeping missions. In order to do this in the best, most honorable way, we should gain a deep understanding not only of the different contexts of a place and its people, but also of who these people or ‘locals’ are and what the power relations look like within their communities. We need to understand the conflict they are or were part of in depth and the way they interpret ‘peace’ or ‘post-conflict’. In order to really be able to design for a certain legacy, we should let go of our own ideas about ‘development’ and ‘wellbeing’ and learn about the dreams and hopes of people. These hopes and dreams, constructed within their own reality, need to be our starting point when legacies are created.


A Green Strategy for BLUE: Food and ecological security through ‘Deeply Green Urban Agriculture’. Debra Solomon/ Urbaniahoeve

Introduction The Green Strategy of BLUE envisions an approach to greening that simulta­ne­ ously both nourishes the inhabitants of Gao and Camp Castor as well and their physical environment by designing ecological legacy. The vision is based upon combining the benefits of urban agriculture (UA) in the form of park-like edible landscapes, also known as food forests, with agroecology techniques, already successful at greening formerly desertified regions. The 2016 Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) Communiqué emphasizes that food security is “a prerequisite for political and social stability and crucial for planning and managing the urbanization process successfully, highlighting the capability of agriculture in rural, periurban and urban areas not only to supply food but also a wide range of public goods and services,” including ecosystem services. Rooting BLUE’s Green Strategy in a forest garden format surpasses the notion of the UA ‘market garden’ to include a densely edible landscape capable of driving positive ecological impacts like water sequestration, preventing urban heat islands, soil regeneration, and the creation of high value nature, itself a potential source of UA revenue and outputs. In developing a Green Strategy for Camp Castor and the adjacent city of Gao, any approach, if it is to succeed, will necessarily address social, technological, and ecological factors. Social aspects will acknowledge the multi-stakeholder terrains of the military base, the city and peri-urban space. Design decisions with regard to the landscape and agroecosystems must be understandable and culturally appro­ priate for local practitioners of: urban agriculture, local market gardening, urban (and peri-urban) conservation agriculture, agroforestry (forest gardening), and pastoralism, and the implemented agrotechnologies should be suitable and appealing to military personnel on and off the base. Technical considerations of the Green Strategy refer to how areas will be designed and built, the timeframe, and can concern the use and access to machinery. Ecological aspects describe what local stakeholders deem to be the most pressing priorities concerning the

landscape. BLUE’s Green Strategy describes a vision that necessarily suits existing social contexts (urban, military, and pastoral), technological constraints (timeframe, available resources and logistics), its ecological improvements and yields.

Design Legacy in Nature In ecology and agriculture, ‘succession’ is the term used to denote the dynamics of legacy. Succession describes the transition between certain crops or plant combinations that, following each other in time, leave behind new conditions in the form of residues and food for future generations of plant, bacterial and fungal life. This is what is happening when certain plants occupy ‘empty’ urban plots that, left undisturbed, provide habitat where bird nest and foxes make their homes. Ecological legacy can also be observed under­ ground where spaces left over by the roots of a now-dead species provide room for one whose roots will fill the same contours, flourishing on the residues left behind by its predecessor. Planning for ecological succession, i.e. designing an ecological legacy for Camp Castor and the adjacent urban area of Gao, not only entails developing long term planning that addresses in situ resource building, biodiversity and the creation of favorable microclimates, but is also about choosing which strategies will be used to achieve these goals. Plant and crop choices are in fact the choice for a specific set of plant strate­ gies and form part of a set of useful ecological tools. When we choose distinct plant combinations, we are choosing the notional sum of their survival strategies as our own.

Examples for Camp Castor In BLUE’s Green Strategy, Camp Castor can provide a focal point for ecological security and renewal. The camp complex is a hub of technical resources, labor and machinery, and is capable of embedding ecosystem services to form the foundation of future resources and education. These might include formats that require abundant space, not readily available in the adjacent city of Gao. Plant nurseries combined with agricultural education labs anticipate a future in which the base has been transformed and absorbed into the urban and ecological fabric. The base’s peripheral placement in the landscape calls for an easy-to-implement, highimpact greening strategy, strengthened with multi-layered agroforestry at later phases. Soil grading to create large flat surfaces and provide large uninter­ rupted areas of paving in Camp Castor (and in urban areas in Gao) work against 45

ecological legacy and can be defined as a ‘disturbance’, to use an ecological term. A democratic form of ecological legacy design requires assessing all likely forms of ‘site disturbance’ and taking these into account in the design planning of the landscape. In other words, events such as base and road construction and the creation of potentially large infrastruc­tures like water storage, imply access to the use of heavy machinery, potential disturbance events but also potential resources from the perspective of stakeholders keen to source road runoff as an irrigation resource. Large machinery can be used both on and off base to implement land contours, terracing, land swales, and wind belts. Taking an agroecological approach involves, among other things, grading levels of land use disturbance to better share their positive effects and resources. Camp Castor is itself a valuable resource of logistical expertise that can aid in programming the ‘use’ of disturbance events productively. One sustainable land management practice appropriate for use at Camp Castor is stone lines, a traditional method for producing soil fertility in desertified areas by capturing silt and organic matter and slowing runoff to create greened areas. Leaving large portions of the base ungraded has advantages for ecological success, and the sloped areas can be transformed through the use of ‘fanya juu terraces’, self-grading planting zones that increase water retention and mitigate erosion. In general, the spatial planning at Camp Castor should be based upon imple­ menting parkland agroforestry, which as it sounds creates park-like zones of productive, high canopy trees with an equally productive understory, a living landscape that is simultaneously a nursery for plants and plant-knowledge distribution. This resplendent poly­ culture will ecologically protect the base and adjacent city by transforming a larger landscape to one with a more favorable microclimate. This landscape with requisite biodiversity will at the same time produce useful primary and secondary outputs for the adjacent city including beneficial high value nature in the long term.

Conclusion: A Green Strategy for BLUE: Food and ecological security through ‘Deeply Green Urban Agriculture Urban Agriculture in Africa substantially contributes to providing nutrition through year-round access to fresh food, but its practice remains intricately bound up with use of and competition for the city’s resources. A recent recommendation (albeit a study of East


Paired minirhizotron images showing roots of canola cover crop (left) in compacted plowpan soil (spring) and soybean roots (right) observed in the same locations in the soil a few months later. The roots can be seen to follow channels made by the preceding canola roots (after S.M. Williams and R. R. Weil, ‘Crop cover root channels may alleviate soil compaction effects on soybean crop’, Soil Science Society of America Journal (2006); with permission). Source: Z. G. Cardon and J. L. Whitbeck, The Rhizosphere, an ecological perspective, 1st ed. (Amsterdam: Elsevier Academic Press, 2007). pp. 131, Figure 6.2.

Example forms of root separation in an agroecology planting The top drawing shows horizontal stratification, the lower shows vertical root partitioning. Source: P.A. Wojtkowski, Introduction to Agroecology Principles and Practices, 1st ed. (Philadelphia: Haworth Press, 2006). pp. 39.

African cities) calls for improving urban agricultural systems by focusing on existing low-risk food products (e.g. poultry and mushrooms) and collectively producing high return products (fruit, and vegetables). These agricultural examples alone are rich in secondary outputs beneficial to urban soil fertility. Well planned and densely planted, a multi-layered urban agro-forest brings far more than a year-round source of high value nutrition. It reduces ecological stress by cooling the city with shade through a multilayered canopy. Urban soils improved and remediated through the addition of aforementioned

manure and other sources of mulch have the capability of absorbing and retaining up to 50% more water from seasonal rains, roadside runoff and even greywater sources. When UA is perceived as food and ecosystem infrastructure, it has the power to cycle urban resources that might otherwise go untapped. The Green Strategy of BLUE is a vision predicated on combining urban agriculture in the form of park-like edible landscapes and currently practiced agroecology techniques to simultaneously nourish urban inhabitants while greening the physical 46

environment. Sustainable agricultural choices use techniques already in practice, prioritizing traditional and local practice. Educational priorities will ideally include urban topsoil production (e.g. vermiculture, composting), in situ soil remediation and erosion prevention, and an awareness of how biodiversity, both above and below ground, impacts ecosystem health and is directly connected to overall yield. Successfully applied to both Gao and Camp Castor, BLUE’s Green Strategy can produce a democratic, productive landscape, in which ecological legacy is driven by both long and short term stakeholders.


IBO one

Biographies

Moussa Ag Assarid is a Tuareg politician, writer, comedian, journalist and storyteller. He represents the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad. Joel van der Beek is a board member of Economists for Peace and Security. He is the Chief Economist at EconoVision economic research and GM at EconoTalent staffing solutions. He is the key person behind the blog Economists on conflict at SIPRI. Travis Bunt is a former officer in the US Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps. He wrote A Life Away: Letters From Afghanistan, which reflects on the US military’s role as nation-builder to the world. Peter Chilson’s published work has primarily focused on literary journalism, the essay, and in short fiction with an emphasis on Africa and the American West. He is also interested in African literature and border­lands studies. Aldo van Eyck was an architect from the Netherlands (1918–1999). He was one of the most influential protagonists of the architectural movement Structuralism. Van Eyck was heavily influenced by traditional African architecture as a result of many fieldtrips to Mali. Foundation Dogon Education was founded by archi­tect Joop van Stigt and his wife, who was inspired for many years by the remarkable culture and architecture of the Dogon. FDE realizes schools and other provi­sions in the clay villages situated on the plateau of Bandiagara. Dr. Erella Grassiani is a Dutch-Israeli anthropologist and activist. She works at the University of Amsterdam and is one of the cofounders of gate48. Arnon Grunberg is a Dutch writer of novels, essays, and columns. Grunberg visited the Dutch army in Afghanistan in 2006. Originally for a series of columns ‘Grunberg Among the People’ – the columns are now bundled as Among the Soldiers. Labelle Prussin is a writer and the author of African Nomadic Architecture. The field research offers insights into the daily life of African nomads whose material culture is shaped by their desert environment. Marcel Rot is an engineer at the Royal Netherlands Army for the Dutch Ministry of Defence. Debra Solomon is a designer and artist. Solomon researches food and food culture, focusing on social cohesion through local food-related microeconomies. Malkit Shoshan studied architecture and urban plan­ning at the IUAV (Venice, Italy) and at the Technion (Haifa, Israel). She is the founder of the architecture think-tank FAST, the Foundation for Achieving Seam­ less Territory. Her work explores and highlights the relationships between architecture, politics and human rights. She is the author of the award-winning book Atlas of the Conflict, Israel-Palestine (2010), and Village (2014). Jonas Staal is a Dutch visual artist. His work deals with the relationship between art, democracy, and propaganda and has often generated public debate. Jurriaan van Stigt is co-founder of the architecture office LEVS. He is particularly focused on the social aspects of building, with several projects in Mali as a result. Van Stigt is also chairman of the Foundation Dogon Education. David Turnbull is a designer, writer and professor from the Cooper Union. His work is concerned with the inter­section of ecology and technology, with a spe­cific focus on the development and construction of building types that address global ecological and social challenges. Marion de Vos is married to Consul General Rob de Vos. She is a freelance writer and poet, as well as a Honorary Diplomatic Member of the Holland Dames. Rob de Vos is Consul General of the Netherlands in New York. Before this, he worked – among many other things - as a deputy Chief of Mission in Madrid. He also opened a Diplomatic Mission in Bamako (Mali).

is a 60 g/m² paper

which is produced from pure cellulose without fillers. The result is a transparent paper with a nice insight, pleasant tone, sound and paper feeling.

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Het Nieuwe Instituut is charged by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to commission the Netherlands’ contribution to the Venice Architecture Biennale. This publication accompanies the exhibition BLUE: Architecture of UN Peacekeeping Missions, curated by Malkit Shoshan for the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 and was featured as an insert in Volume #48: The Research Turn. It was made possible thanks to the support of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture & Science, Embassy of the Netherlands in Rome, Italy, IGEPA, and the Creative Industries Fund NL. Editor Malkit Shoshan Production Volume/Archis: Arjen Oosterman, Nick Axel, Lilet Breddels Het Nieuwe Instituut: Madeleine Mans, Judith Öfner, Vicky Anning Publisher Volume/Archis Design Irma Boom with Julia Neller Essays Moussa Ag Assarid, Joël van der Beek, Travis Bunt, Peter Chilson, Foundation Dogon Education, Erella Grassiani, Arnon Grunberg, Marcel Rot, Malkit Shoshan, Debra Solomon, Studio Jonas Staal, Jurriaan van Stigt, David Turnbull, Marion de Vos, Rob de Vos Design for Legacy research contributors Samir Bantal, Joel van der Beek, Thomas Boonen, Martine van der Does, Wouter Eidhof, Erella Grassiani, Maaike Groot, Alex Jansen, Robert Kluijver, Erwin Marx, Kees Matthijssen, Norbert Moerkens, Marleen Monster, Eran Nagan, Henk Ovink, Marcel Rot, Malkit Shoshan, Debra Solomon Photographs and illustrations Moussa Ag Assarid, Travis Bunt, Peter Chilson, Dutch Ministry of Defense, Aldo van Eyck, Foundation Dogon Education, LEVS architecten, Labelle Prussin, Marcel Rot, Laura van Santen, Malkit Shoshan, Jonas Staal Design for Legacy research was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Creative Industries Fund NL and Het Nieuwe Instituut. Special thanks to: Charlotte van Baak, Guus Beumer, Matthijs Bouw, Yael Davids, Zvi Efrat, Floor van Spaendonck and Renilde Steeghs. Printed by Die Keure, Belgium on IBO ONE-paper.

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