Misplaced Knowledge: Large Dams as an Anatopism in South Asia

  • Ravi BaghelEmail author
Part of the Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research book series (AAHER)


Even though South Asia accounts for a large proportion of the dams in the world, they have seldom been examined at the subcontinental scale, with most scrutiny confined to specific projects. Large dams are not merely functional technologies but come invested with a broad range of meanings. Using a Geography of Science approach, this chapter attempts to create a genealogy of the evolution of the meaning of dams and identify the ways in which they have been influenced by the spaces in which this technology developed. Going beyond a simplistic local-global opposition, I argue that large dams are technological attempts to recreate the landscape in the image of other idealised spaces. In many ways, this recreation is fundamentally at odds with local conditions and makes large dams an anatopism in South Asia.


Large dams Tropicality Hydraulic mission Genealogy South Asia 



I would like to thank the Cluster of Excellence: Asia and Europe in a Global Context and the University of Heidelberg for the generous financial and intellectual support provided during the writing of this chapter. I must also thank Prof Nüsser for his mentoring and advice, Thomas Lennartz for contributing his valuable organisational skills and all my colleagues in the Department of Geography, South Asia Institute, for their encouragement and support.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, South Asia InstituteHeidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany

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