Passive revolution in the green economy: activism and the Belo Monte dam

  • Eve BratmanEmail author
Original Paper


The paper offers an analysis of the historical, material, and ideational factors involved in shifting socio-environmental activism dynamics in Brazil, with a focus on the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam project located on the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon. Relying on qualitative research at a variety of levels, the paper seeks to answer the question: What does the Belo Monte case portend for our understanding of the capacity of green economy to facilitate a greater environmental sensitivity in a national context? The case study illustrates how green activism has been weakened by a combination of self-interested calculations by activists and strategic maneuvers by the state. Critically for environmental policymaking, the case study reveals how the state and its international allies can use the green economy discourse as a hegemonic tool to isolate opposition, break alliances, and further resource-extraction-oriented economic policies.


Hydroelectric energy  Belo Monte Civil society Hegemony Green economy 



Brazilian Development Bank (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social)


Belo Monte Construction Consortium (Consórcio Constructor Belo Monte)


Foundation for Life, Production, and Preservation (Fundação Viver Produzir e Preservar)


Movement of People Affected by Dams (Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens)


Movement for the Development of the Transamazon and Xingu (Movimento pelo Desenvolvimento da Transamazônica e Xingu)


Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores)


Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis)


Inter-American Commission on Human Rights



I am grateful to The School of International Service at American University for their generous support of this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of International ServiceAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA

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