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Full Access Going Against the Flow: The Biopolitics of Dams and Diversions

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Going Against the Flow: The Biopolitics of Dams and Diversions

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

Interactions with water are indicative not only of relationships between human groups but also of relationships with other species. In biopolitical economies few things express dominance over other species as clearly as damming and redirecting flows of water to give primacy to human needs. Yet despite growing opposition, dams—especially large ones—are still presented triumphantly, as symbols of successful nationhood and economic development. Building on ethnographic research in Australia, this chapter examines the allure of dams. It suggests that they represent not only a competition for wealth, but also an aspiration for control over life itself and the vitality of “living water.”

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University Cosin’s Hall, Palace Green, Durham DH1 3RL, UK, veronica.strang@durham.ac.uk

10.1163/15685357-01702007
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Interactions with water are indicative not only of relationships between human groups but also of relationships with other species. In biopolitical economies few things express dominance over other species as clearly as damming and redirecting flows of water to give primacy to human needs. Yet despite growing opposition, dams—especially large ones—are still presented triumphantly, as symbols of successful nationhood and economic development. Building on ethnographic research in Australia, this chapter examines the allure of dams. It suggests that they represent not only a competition for wealth, but also an aspiration for control over life itself and the vitality of “living water.”

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2013-01-01
2016-12-06

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