Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Committee Chair/Advisor

Nassar, Hala

Committee Member

Ellis , Cliff

Committee Member

Nocks , Barry

Committee Member

Ashour , Ayman


In 2005, approximately 850 families from the historic village of El Gourna, Egypt were relocated to a new village. The relocation was part of a government initiative to protect ancient records and artifacts from Egypt's Middle Kingdom contained in the Tombs of the Nobles that lay beneath the houses of the village. A special feature of the relocation was an effort made the local authorities to involve of local village leaders and residents in the process.
In the 1990s, about 8 to 10 million people per year were involuntary relocated due to large development projects, or about 100 million people for the decade, a number far greater than those displaced by wars, famines, and natural disasters. Recent estimates are still between between 6 to 8 million people per year.
Involuntary relocation involves significant long term risks and traumatic changes for displaced populations. They suffer the loss of lands, property, income, occupations, lifelong memories, and community structures that provided social and economic support systems. These upheavals result in permanent, irreversible changes, long term poverty in most cases, and a deep sense of loss and grief. And, it is typically a process over which the relocatees have little or no control.
This study focuses on villager participation in the relocation of El Gourna. It identifies unique characteristics of the village, important events and consequences of the relocation, and primary forms of local communication and participation. Information for the study was gathered from interviews, documents, artifacts, and participant observation, and inductive analysis was used to develop interpretive themes and explanatory concepts.
The study concludes that relocation should be re-conceptualized as a multifaceted process consisting of at least two interdependent undertakings, i.e., relocation and resettlement, and involving two or more unique entities with different goals, capabilities and resources, rather that as a single government project. By implication, participation must also be re-conceptualized as cooperation and collaboration between joint partners, not as consultation with local residents. When viewed as a single government project with participation as an adjunct, relocation often falls short of achieving hoped for goals.
The study also recommends that the unique characteristics and communicative structures of local communities, and the specific conditions and goals of the project itself, be carefully studied prior to relocation as background for the formulation of relocation plans and participatory techniques and procedures.



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