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C2 Large Dams (project completed)

Large Dams: Contested Environments between Hydro-Power and Resistance

Coordination: Gita Dharampal-Frick, Marcus Nüsser


The aim of the project is to analyze the multi-dimensional asymmetries of scale, time, and directions in the large dam controversy with a regional focus on India and China. Whereas the concept of large-scale transformation of fluvial environments into technological hydro-scapes originated in the West, widespread construction of large dams started in the countries of the South immediately after decolonization. Construction and operation of large dams are among the most prestigious but also sensitive development issues, often accompanied by massive resistance of adversely affected people and NGOs. Based on the notion of contested politicized environments, we will analyze various textual, visual, and audio materials to identify the narratives and imaginations that shape the large dam controversy. We seek to develop a new transdisciplinary model which integrates contributions from discourse analyses and political ecology.

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