Lessons Learned from Research in France: Toward a Cross-Site Comparison of Wastewater Infrastructure in Baltimore and Paris.
Abigail M. Porter
From July to September 2002 I conducted research for the BES in Paris, France. The goal of this research was to determine the materials available to study the socio-political factors surrounding the extension of the city’s sanitation network to the rapidly developing suburban areas during the years between the First and Second World Wars. During the course of this research, I encountered a number of obstacles. Learning the French library system took a good deal of time. I found that one of the most invaluable assets was securing contacts in Paris before leaving the United States. Without this, I would have wasted valuable time finding an efficient and appropriate starting point. While other problems did arise, I gathered a great deal of information, mainly from the City of Paris Municipal Council reports collection at the Administrative Library along with contextual information found at the city’s Historic Library. Recently I compiled this data and found that three main themes emerged relating to the research question. The first of these themes was the recognition, by city officials, of the increased population in the suburbs of Paris following the end of the war in 1918 and the related disorganization, filth, and disease in these areas. This increase coupled with the existing stress on water provision and a disorganized government meant undesirable living conditions for many inhabitants of the suburbs. Administrative disorganization is the second of the dominant themes and it is well documented in most of the major studies conducted by the municipal council on the state of the city’s wastewater infrastructure. Administrative disorganization was further exacerbated by questions of adequate funding for the extensive work that needed to be undertaken to provide the suburbs with adequate service. From these themes BES researchers can determine where future research efforts should be concentrated. My presentation will outline the difficulties of conducting research in Paris as well as the methodology used. Finally, I will give a summary of the preliminary findings and discuss the avenues for areas of future research.
cross site, baltimore, paris