Advertisement

Misplaced Knowledge: Large Dams as an Anatopism in South Asia

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Large dams Tropicality Hydraulic mission Genealogy South Asia 

Notes

Acknowledgement

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.

References

  1. Agarwal A, Narain S (1997) Dying wisdom: rise, fall and potential of India’s traditional water harvesting systems. CSE, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnold D (2000) “Illusory riches”: representations of the tropical world, 1840–1950. Singap J Trop Geogr 21(1):6–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arnold D (2004) Deathscapes: India in an age of romanticism and empire, 1800–1856. Ninet Century Contexts 26:339–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baghel R, Nüsser M (2010) Discussing large dams in Asia after the World Commission on dams: is a political ecology approach the way forward? Water Altern 3(2):231–248Google Scholar
  5. Berkes F, Folke C (eds) (1998) Linking social and ecological systems: management practices and social mechanisms for building resilience. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Berkes F, Colding J, Folke C (2003) Navigating social-ecological systems: building resilience for complexity and change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Blaut JM (1999) Environmentalism and eurocentrism. Geogr Rev 89(3):391–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Calder IR (1999) The blue revolution. Land use and integrated water resources management. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Chaudhuri NC (1965) The continent of Circe: an essay on the people of India. Chatto & Windus, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. CWC (Central Water Commission) (2009) National register of large dams – 2009. Technical report. Government of India, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  11. D’Souza R (2006) Water in British India: the making of a ‘colonial hydrology’. Hist Compass 4(4):621–628CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davis M (1995) Los Angeles after the storm: the dialectic of ordinary disaster. Antipode 27(3):221–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Davis M (2000) The origin of the third world. Antipode 32(1):48–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dharmadhikary S (2005) Unravelling Bhakra: assessing the temple of resurgent India. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, BadwaniGoogle Scholar
  15. Diamond J (1998) Guns, germs, and steel: the fates of human societies. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Dorn H (1991) The geography of science. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore/LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Hargrove E (1994) Prisoners of myth: the leadership of the Tennessee Valley Authority, 1933–1990. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  18. Iyer RR (2007) Towards water wisdom: limits, justice, harmony. Sage Publications Inc., New Delhi/Thousand Oaks/London/SingaporeGoogle Scholar
  19. Jasanoff S (2004) Ordering knowledge, ordering society. In: Jasanoff S (ed) States of knowledge: the co-production of science and social order. Routledge, London/New York, pp 13–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Klingensmith D (2007) “One valley and a thousand”: dams, nationalism and development. Oxford University Press, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  21. Kuhn TS (1996) The structure of scientific revolutions, 3rd edn. The University of Chicago press, Chicago/LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lilienthal DE (1944) TVA, democracy on the march. Overseas Editions, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Linton J (2008) Is the hydrologic cycle sustainable? A historical-geographical critique of a modern concept. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 98(3):630–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Linton J (2010) What is water? The history of a modern abstraction. University of British Columbia Press, VancouverGoogle Scholar
  25. Livingstone DN (1991) The moral discourse of climate: historical considerations on race, place and virtue. J Hist Geogr 17(4):413–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Livingstone DN (1995) The spaces of knowledge: contributions towards a historical geography of science. Environ Plann D Soc Space 13(1):5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Livingstone DN (2000) Tropical hermeneutics: fragments for a historical narrative: an afterword. Singapore J Trop Geogr 21(1):76–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Livingstone DN (2002) Race, space and moral climatology: notes toward a genealogy. J Hist Geogr 28(2):159–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Livingstone DN (2003) Putting science in its place: geographies of scientific knowledge. The University Of Chicago Press, Chicago/LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Meyer-Abich KM (1990) Aufstand für die Natur: Von der Umwelt zur Mitwelt, 2nd edn. Carl Hanser, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  31. Meyer-Abich KM (1996) Humans in nature: toward a physiocentric philosophy. Daedalus 125(3):213–234Google Scholar
  32. Molle F (2009) River-basin planning and management: the social life of a concept. Geoforum 40(3):484–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Molle F, Mollinga PP, Wester P (2009) Hydraulic bureaucracies and the hydraulic mission: flows of water, flows of power. Water Altern 2(3):328–349Google Scholar
  34. Morrison KD (2010) Dharmic projects, imperial reservoirs, and new temples of India: an historical perspective on dams in India. Conserv Soc 8(3):182–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nagel T (1986) The view from nowhere. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  36. Nandy A (2001) Dams and dissent: India’s first modern environmental activist and his critique of the DVC project. Futures 33(8–9):709–731CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Naylor S (2005) Introduction: historical geographies of science – places, contexts, cartographies. Br J Hist Sci 38(1):1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nehru J (2004) The discovery of India. Penguin Books, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  39. Panda DK, Kumar A, Mohanty S (2011) Recent trends in sediment load of the tropical (Peninsular) river basins of India. Global Planet Change 75(3–4):108–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Said E (1979) Orientalism. Vintage Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Sakthivadivel R, Thiruvengadachari S, Amerasinghe U, Bastiaanssen WGM, Molden D (1999) Performance evaluation of the Bhakra irrigation system, India, using remote sensing and GIS techniques (Research Report 28). International Water Management Institute, ColomboGoogle Scholar
  42. Scott JC (1999) Seeing like a state: how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed. Yale University Press, New Haven/LondonGoogle Scholar
  43. Scott JC (2006) High modernist social engineering: the case of the Tennessee Valley Authority. In: Rudolph LI, Jacobsen JK (eds) Experiencing the state. Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pp 3–52Google Scholar
  44. Sen A (1981) Ingredients of famine analysis: availability and entitlements. Q J Econ 96(3):433–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shapin S (1998) Placing the view from nowhere: historical and sociological problems in the location of science. Trans Inst Br Geogr 23(1):5–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Shapin S, Schaffer S (1989) Leviathan and the air-pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the experimental life. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  47. Shelley PB (1826) Miscellaneous and posthumous poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley. W. Benbow, LondonGoogle Scholar
  48. Sheppard E (2011) Geography, nature, and the question of development. Dialogues Hum Geogr 1(1):46–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Singh J (1998) My trysts with the projects Bhakra and Beas. Uppal Publishing House, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  50. Tuan YF (1968) The hydrologic cycle and the wisdom of God: a theme in geoteleology. University of Toronto Press, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  51. Vörösmarty CJ, Meybeck M, Fekete B, Sharma K, Green P, Syvitski JPM (2003) Anthropogenic sediment retention: major global impact from registered river impoundments. Global Planet Change 39(1–2):169–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. WCD (World Commission on Dams) (2000) Dams and development. A new framework for decision-making. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  53. Withers CWJ (1995) Geography, natural history and the eighteenth-century enlightenment: putting the world in place. Hist Workshop J 39(1):137–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations