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Title: The politics of dam resurgence : high modernist statebuilding and the emerging powers in Africa
Author: Dye, Barnaby Joseph
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 3375
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Following a decade from the mid-1990s that saw a near cessation in dam building, the infrastructure has returned. This phenomenon is controversial because dams' social and environmental impacts, economic costs and development ineffectiveness have been well evidenced. This timely analysis of the dam resurgence asks why and how this trend is happening. It studies three individual dams in Rwanda and Tanzania with Indian, Brazilian and World Bank involvement respectively. Primarily qualitative analysis interrogates three conceptual levels of these projects: The international enabling companies and financiers; driving national governments; and each dam site's locale. Addressing a literature bias towards materialist explanations, theoretical analysis uses a lens of high modernist ideology. Research finds depoliticising and expert-centric applied high modernist ideas in the case study dams' justifications, decision-making and knowledge-production. This entailed a singular focus on electricity generation and short-sightedness to these dams' socio-environmental impacts. However, the thesis also demonstrates the presence of dam reforms and evidences their influence on each case's discourse and practice. Given reformist policies' foundation in oppositional principles, the thesis proposes an ideological bricolage with high modernism to describe the rationales and practices of its case studies of dam resurgence; a moulding of past high modernism with new reformist idea-practices. This significantly furthers the social science literature on the dam resurgence, describing and explaining the era's complexity, its limited but important change and array of, increasingly corporate, actors. Through the case study research, the thesis also furthers understanding of the emerging powers' presence and influence in Africa. Moreover, it contributes to analysis on the growing number of illiberal modernisation projects across the continent. The dam-building resurgence in Rwanda and Tanzania and its ideological bricolage both demonstrates and nuances this trend. Intersection with these themes ensures the thesis advances understanding of the ideology, politics and geography of development.
Supervisor: Oliveira, Ricardo Soares de Sponsor: Economic and Social Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available