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Title: Promoting and contesting hydropower development : actors and narratives in the Lower Mekong Basin's hydropolitical constellation
Author: Cooper, Rachel Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2729 9620
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis investigates hydropower development in the lower Mekong basin. Water resources development is promoted and contested by multiple actors at multiple scalar levels of analysis. In examining the hydropolitical constellation of the lower Mekong theoretical insights from political ecology are utilised, and dominant assumptions about transboundary rivers are considered. The hydropolitical constellation of the lower Mekong is comprised of a number of different actors with competing water resources development agendas, including: the Mekong River Commission, multilateral development banks, donors, the private sector, and civil society. The Mekong River Commission, as a transboundary river basin organisation, is a key arena for hydropower development debates as it is a space where a multitude of actors interact and confront each other. This thesis argues that a dominant development narrative linking hydropower development and poverty reduction has endured since the 1950s. This narrative was the initial impetus for transboundary water cooperation between the four lower Mekong states. From the 1990s onwards the pace of hydropower development in the lower Mekong has increased and is being intensified by new actors. Changing regional dynamics and the presence of new actors has altered power relationships, but not dominant conceptions of the Mekong and hydropower. This thesis argues that actors utilise narratives to legitimise their development interventions and silence the concerns of less powerful actors. Situating hydropower development at the national scale obscures actors, processes and impacts at other levels of analysis which are promoting and contesting hydropower development. Representing the Mekong and development in particular ways allows actors to maintain and extend their access to resources. However, this is continually challenged by less powerful actors. The evidence and representations of less powerful actors have been unable to displace those of powerful actors who have shifted the terrain to discussions of trade-offs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council ; Newcastle University Politics Department ; Newcastle University School of Geography ; Politics and Sociology
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available