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Title: The anti-dam protest cycle : evidence from Asia
Author: Kirchherr, Julian
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 8446
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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A major surge in dam construction is under way, and Asia is a hotspot of it. Various policymakers in Asia frame dams as avenues for economic development, yet project-affected communities and civil societies frequently oppose these projects due to their negative environmental and social impacts. While resistance against dam projects in Asia is well documented in the popular press, such environmental activism remains underresearched by scholars. This dissertation addresses this gap. For this purpose, more than 130 semi-structured interviews were carried out via snowball sampling in Myanmar, Thailand, China and Singapore over the course of two years, complemented by online surveying and document analysis. Based on these data, an anti-dam protest cycle is proposed that conceptualizes root causes, strategies and impacts of anti-dam movements in Asia. It also highlights the significant influence of antidam activists on Southeast Asia's dam industry. The cycle commences with the attempt to construct a dam, which can induce significant protests even in countries with limited political opportunity structures, if limited social safeguards in a project coincide with significant environmental risk and rampant corruption. Even if the movement is operating with an extremely limited budget, these protests can cause project suspension and thus continue the cycle - provided that the dam project is framed in a manner that appeals to a broad popular base and/or the movement operates with a sophisticated strategy. Project suspension has been found to have far-reaching effects, with the suspension of Myanmar's Myitsone Dam being identified as a game changer. While Chinese dam developers had previously adopted limited social safeguard norms prior to this dam's suspension, international norms have been increasingly adopted after this incident, since these norms are seen as a pathway to mitigate protests. Yet the negative effects of dams' remaining non-mitigated can continue the anti-dam protest cycle.
Supervisor: Walton, Matthew ; Charles, Katrina Sponsor: Friedrich Naumann Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available