Ottoman infrastructures of the Saudi hydro-state: The technopolitics of pilgrimage and potable water in the Hijaz

The provisioning of potable water was a microcosm of the Ottoman state's incomplete projects of technopolitical modernization on the Arab frontier. Water questions sat at the intersection between international pressures surrounding cholera, drought, Wahhabi and Bedouin disorder, and the inability of the state to impose its will on the semi-autonomous Amirate of Mecca. To be sure, Ottoman public health reforms and increased attention to water infrastructure were partly a product of the intense international attention generated by the hajj's role in the globalization of cholera. However, like other projects with more overt military and strategic implications, most notably the Hijaz telegraph and railway, the Ottoman state also saw an opportunity to harness the increasing medicalization of the hajj to serve a broader set of efforts to consolidate the empire's most vulnerable frontier provinces.

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