Contested Environments Between Hydro-Power and Resistance
Prof. Dr. Gita Dharampal-Frick
Prof. Dr. Barbara Mittler
Ravi Baghel, M.A.
Dipl. Geogr. Thomas Lennartz
Funding: Excellence Initiative "Asia and Europe"
Project number: C2
The project analyzed the multi-dimensional asymmetries of scale, time, and directions in the large dam debate with a regional focus on India and China. Large dams have evoked controversial discussions about development paths, effectiveness, environmental consequences, and social justice. After decolonization, widespread construction of large dams started in the countries of the South. These gigantic technological hydro-scapes symbolize the human dominance over nature and form icons of modernity and national prestige. They are often accompanied by massive resistance of adversely affected people and NGOs. Although the World Commission on Dams has been founded to elaborate common ground in the negotiation process and agreed upon five guiding principles: justice, sustainability, efficiency, participation and accountability, the controversy continues. The current debate on CO2-reduction through hydropower revitalizes the global discussion. Based on the notion of contested politicized environments, various textual, visual, and audio materials were analyzed to identify the narratives and imaginations that shape the large dam controversy.
Tehri Dam, Uttharakand (M. Nüsser 2008).
Figure: Large dams: contested environments between hydro-power and resistance (M. Nüsser 2003, modified). Click to enlarge.