Analytical Approaches to River Control

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


This chapter discusses in detail the analytical framework used in this work. A discussion of the World Commission on Dams process and response is used to identify the gaps in existing approaches. This is put into context using the Bhakra project as a case study. The combination of political ecology approaches and Foucauldian discourse analysis is proposed for an examination of discursive and political functions of river control, with a special focus on the role of expert knowledge.


World Commission on Dams Political ecology Bhakra Expert knowledge River control 


  1. Adger WN, Benjaminsen TA, Brown K, Svarstad H (2001) Advancing a political ecology of global environmental discourses. Dev Chang 32(4):681–715Google Scholar
  2. Andersson E, Brogaard S, Olsson L (2011) The political ecology of land degradation. Annu Rev Environ Resour 36(1):295–319Google Scholar
  3. Arnold D (1998) India’s place in the Tropical World, 1770–1930. J Imp Commonw Hist 26(1):1–21Google Scholar
  4. Arnold D (2000) ‘Illusory Riches’: representations of the Tropical World, 1840–1950. Singapore J Trop Geogr 21(1):6–18Google Scholar
  5. 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
  6. Bandyopadhyay J, Mallik B, Mandal M, Perveen S (2002) Dams and development: report on a policy dialogue. Econ Political Wkly 37(40):4108–4112Google Scholar
  7. Bello W, Guttal S (2006) The limits of reform: the Wolfensohn era at the World Bank. Race Cl 47(3):68–81Google Scholar
  8. Bhakra Beas Management Board (2009) Developmental history of Bhakra-Nangal dam project.
  9. Bhatia R, Malik RPS, Bhatia M (2007) Direct and indirect economic impacts of the Bhakra multipurpose dam, India. Irrig Drain 56(2–3):195–206Google Scholar
  10. Biersack A (2006) Reimagining political ecology: culture/power/history/nature. In: Biersack A, Greenberg JB (eds) Reimagining political ecology. Duke University Press, Durham/London, pp 3–42Google Scholar
  11. Blaikie P (1985) The political economy of soil erosion in developing countries. Longman, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Blaikie P (1999) A review of political ecology: issues, epistemology and analytical narratives. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie 43(3/4):131–147Google Scholar
  13. Blaikie P (2008) Epilogue: towards a future for political ecology that works. Geoforum 39(2): 765–772Google Scholar
  14. Blaikie P, Brookfield H (1987) Land degradation and society. Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Blaikie P, Cannon T, Davis I, Wisner B (1994) At risk: natural hazards, people’s vulnerability, and disasters. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Brinkerhoff JM (2002) Global public policy, partnership, and the case of the World Commission on Dams. Public Adm Rev 62(3):324–336Google Scholar
  17. Bryant R (1998) Power, knowledge and political ecology in the Third World: a review. Prog Phys Geogr 22(1):79Google Scholar
  18. Bryant R (1999) A political ecology for developing countries? Progress and paradox in the evolution of a research field. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie 43(3/4):148–157Google Scholar
  19. Bryant R, Bailey S (1997) Third World political ecology. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Bryant R, Goodman M (2004) Consuming narratives: the political ecology of alternative’ consumption. Trans Inst Br Geogr 29(3):344–366Google Scholar
  21. Budds J (2004) Power, nature and neoliberalism: the political ecology of water in Chile. Singap J Trop Geogr 25(3):322–342Google Scholar
  22. Budds J (2008) Whose scarcity? The hydrosocial cycle and the changing waterscape of La Ligua River Basin, Chile. In: Goodman M, Boykoff M, Evered K (eds) Contentious geographies: environmental knowledge, meaning, scale. Ashgate, Aldershot, pp 59–78Google Scholar
  23. Cooke RU (1992) Common ground, shared inheritance: research imperatives for environmental geography. Trans Inst Br Geogr 17(2):131–151Google Scholar
  24. Crampton JW, Elden S (eds) (2007) Space, knowledge and power: Foucault and geography. Ashgate, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  25. Cronon W (1995) The trouble with wilderness: or, getting back to the wrong nature. In: Cronon W (ed) Uncommon ground: rethinking the human place in nature. W. W. Norton, New York, pp 69–90Google Scholar
  26. Dalby S (2007) Anthropocene geopolitics: globalisation, empire, environment and critique. Geogr Compass 1(1):103–118Google Scholar
  27. Darier É (1998) Discourses of the environment. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. Dean M (2010) Governmentality: power and rule in modern society. Sage, London/Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  29. Dharmadhikary S (2005) Unravelling Bhakra: assessing the temple of resurgent India. Manthan Adhyayana Kendra, BadwaniGoogle Scholar
  30. Dingwerth K (2005) The democratic legitimacy of public-private rule making: what can we learn from the World Commission on Dams? Glob Gov 11(1):65–83Google Scholar
  31. Dorcey AHJ (ed) (1997) Large dams: learning from the past, looking at the future: workshop proceedings, Gland, Apr 11–12, 1997. IUCN World Conservation Union and the World Bank Broup, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  32. Dubash NK (2009) Global norms through global deliberation: reflections on the World Commission on Dams. Glob Gov 15(2):219–238Google Scholar
  33. Dubash NK, Dupar M, Kothari S, Lissu T (2002) A watershed in global governance? An independent assessment of the World Commission on Dams (executive summary). Politics Life Sci 21(1):42–62Google Scholar
  34. Ehrlich PR (1968) The population bomb. Ballantine Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Elden S, Crampton JW (2007) Introduction: space, knowledge and power. In: Crampton JW, Elden S (eds) Space, knowledge and power: Foucault and geography. Ashgate, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  36. Enzensberger HM (1974) A critique of political ecology. New Left Rev 84(3):3–31Google Scholar
  37. Escobar A (1995) Encountering development: the making and unmaking of the Third World. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  38. Escobar A (1996) Construction nature: elements for a post-structuralist political ecology. Futures 28(4):325–343Google Scholar
  39. Escobar A (2010) Postconstructivist political ecologies. In: Redclift M, Woodgate G (eds) The international handbook of environmental sociology, 2nd edn. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 91–105Google Scholar
  40. Fairhead J, Leach M (1995) False forest history, complicit social analysis: rethinking some West African environmental narratives. World Dev 23(6):1023–1035Google Scholar
  41. Fairhead J, Leach M (1996) Misreading the African landscape: society and ecology in a Forest-savanna mosaic. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  42. Forsyth T (2003) Critical political ecology: the politics of environmental science. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. Forsyth T (2008) Political ecology and the epistemology of social justice. Geoforum 39(2): 756–764Google Scholar
  44. Foucault M (1982) The subject and power. Crit Inq 8(4):777–795Google Scholar
  45. Foucault M (1991) Governmentality. In: Burchell G, Gordon C, Miller P (eds) The Foucault effect: studies in governmentality. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 87–104Google Scholar
  46. Foucault M (1999) Structuralism and post-structuralism. In: Faubion JD, Rabinow P (eds) Aesthetics, method, and epistemology: essential works of Foucault, 1954–1984, vol 2. New Press, New York, pp 433–458Google Scholar
  47. Foucault M (2006) Psychiatric power: lectures at the Collège de France, 1973–74. Palgrave Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  48. Foucault M (2007) Security, territory, population: lectures at the Collège de France 1977–1978. Palgrave Macmillan, BasingstokeGoogle Scholar
  49. Foucault M (2008) The birth of biopolitics: lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979. Palgrave Macmillan, BasingstokeGoogle Scholar
  50. Fujikura R, Nakayama M (2003) Perception gaps among stakeholders regarding the WCD guidelines. Int Environ Agreem Politics Law Econ 3(1):43–57Google Scholar
  51. Fujikura R, Nakayama M (2009) Lessons learned from the World Commission on Dams. Int Environ Agreem Politics Law Economics 9(2):173–190Google Scholar
  52. Ghuman RS (2008) Socio-economic crisis in rural Punjab. Econ Political Wkly 43(7):12–15Google Scholar
  53. Gill S (2005) Economic distress and farmer suicides in rural Punjab. J Punjab Stud 12(2):219–237Google Scholar
  54. Goldman M (2001a) The birth of a discipline: producing authoritative green knowledge, World Bank-style. Ethnography 2(2):191–217Google Scholar
  55. Goldman M (2001b) Constructing an environmental state: eco-governmentality and other transnational practices of a ‘green’ World Bank. Soc Probl 48(4):499–523Google Scholar
  56. Goldman M (2005) Imperial nature: the World Bank and struggles for social justice in the age of globalization. Yale University Press, New Haven/LondonGoogle Scholar
  57. Goldman M (2007) How “water for all!” policy became hegemonic: the power of the World Bank and its transnational policy networks. Geoforum 38(5):786–800Google Scholar
  58. Grewal M (2008) Natural-born farmers. Indian Express, Apr 1, p 9Google Scholar
  59. Groenfeldt D (1984) Change persistence and the impact of irrigation: a controlled comparison of two North Indian villages. Ph.D., University of Arizona, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  60. Guha R (2008) India after Gandhi: the history of the world’s largest democracy. Picador, NoidaGoogle Scholar
  61. Iyer RR (2004) Water: towards a transformation, a critique and a declaration. CPR occasional paper 10, Centre for Policy Research, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  62. Kaika M (2006) Dams as symbols of modernization: the urbanization of nature between geographical imagination and materiality. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 96(2):276–301Google Scholar
  63. Kudaisya G, Tan TY (2000) The aftermath of partition in South Asia. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  64. Kull CA (2002) Madagascar aflame: landscape burning as peasant protest, resistance, or a resource management tool? Political Geogr 21(7):927–953Google Scholar
  65. Lahiri-Dutt K (2000) Imagining rivers. Econ Political Wkly 35(27):2395–2400Google Scholar
  66. Lau L, Pasquini M (2008) “Jack of all trades”? The negotiation of interdisciplinarity within geography. Geoforum 39(2):552–560Google Scholar
  67. Luke T (1995a) On environmentality: geo-power and eco-knowledge in the discourses of contemporary environmentalism. Cult Crit (31):57–81Google Scholar
  68. Luke T (1995b) Sustainable development as a power/knowledge system: the problem of governmentality. In: Fischer F, Black M (eds) Greening environmental policy: the politics of a sustainable future. Paul Chapman, London, pp 21–32Google Scholar
  69. Luke T (1999) Environmentality as green governmentality. In: Darier É (ed) Discourses of the environment. Blackwell, London, pp 121–151Google Scholar
  70. Martell KA, Foote AL, Cumming SG (2006) Riparian disturbance due to beavers (Castor canadensis) in Alberta’s boreal mixedwood forests: implications for forest management. Ecoscience 13(2):164–171Google Scholar
  71. McCormick S (2009) Mobilizing science: movements, participation, and the remaking of knowledge. Temple University Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  72. McCully P (2001) The use of a trilateral network: an activist’s perspective on the formation of the World Commission on Dams. Am Univ Int Law Rev 16(Part 6):1453–1476Google Scholar
  73. Mehta L (2001) The manufacture of popular perceptions of scarcity: dams and water-related narratives in Gujarat, India. World Dev 29(12):2025–2041Google Scholar
  74. Mehta L (2003) Contexts and constructions of water scarcity. Econ Political Wkly 38(48): 5066–5072Google Scholar
  75. Mehta L (2007) Whose scarcity? Whose property? The case of water in western India. Land Use Policy 24(4):654–663Google Scholar
  76. Mitchell T (2002) Rule of experts: Egypt, techno-politics, modernity. University of California Press, Berkeley/Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  77. Mustafa D (1998) Structural causes of vulnerability to flood hazard in Pakistan. Econ Geogr 74(3):289–305Google Scholar
  78. Mustafa D (2002a) Linking access and vulnerability: perceptions of irrigation and flood management in Pakistan. Prof Geogr 54(1):94–105Google Scholar
  79. Mustafa D (2002b) Theory versus practice: the bureaucratic ethos of water resource management and administration in Pakistan. Contemp South Asia 11(1):39–56Google Scholar
  80. Mustafa D (2005) The production of an urban hazardscape in Pakistan: modernity, vulnerability, and the range of choice. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 95(3):566–586Google Scholar
  81. Mustafa D (2007) Social construction of hydropolitics: the geographical scales of water and security in the Indus Basin. Geogr Rev 97(4):484–501Google Scholar
  82. Mustafa D, Wescoat J (1997) Development of flood hazards policy in the Indus River Basin of Pakistan, 1947–1996. Water Int 22(4):238–244Google Scholar
  83. Naiman RJ, Johnston CA, Kelley JC (1988) Alteration of North American streams by beaver. BioScience 38(11):753–762Google Scholar
  84. Nakayama M, Fujikura R (2006) Issues in World Commission on Dams report development: inconsistencies between the facts found and the guidelines. Hydrol Process 20(6):1263–1272Google Scholar
  85. Narrain S (2005) Bhakra dam – a different view. Frontline 22(12).
  86. National Sample Survey Organisation (2005) Situation assessment survey of farmers: indebtedness of farmer households. National Sample Survey 498 (59/33/1), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, New Delhi.
  87. Neumann RP (1992) Political ecology of wildlife conservation in the Mt. Meru area of Northeast Tanzania. Land Degrad Dev 3(2):85–98Google Scholar
  88. Nüsser M (2003) Political ecology of large dams: a critical review. Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen 147(1):20–27Google Scholar
  89. Peet R, Watts M (eds) (1996) Liberation ecologies: environment, development, social movements. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  90. Peet R, Watts M (eds) (2004) Liberation ecologies: environment, development, social movements, 2nd edn. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  91. Philo C (2000) Focuault’s geography. In: Crang M, Thrift N (eds) Thinking space. Routledge, London/New York, pp 205–238Google Scholar
  92. Philo C (2012) A ‘new Foucault’ with lively implications – or ‘the crawfish advances sideways’. Trans Inst Br Geogr 37(4):496–514Google Scholar
  93. Rangachari R (2005) A critique on ‘Unravelling Bhakra’. CPR working paper 19, Centre for Policy Research, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  94. Rao KL, Palta B (1973) Great man-made lake of Bhakra, India. In: White GF, Worthington EB, Ackermann WC (eds) Man-made lakes: their problems and environmental effects. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp 170–185Google Scholar
  95. Robbins P (2004) Political ecology: a critical introduction. Blackwell, Malden/Oxford/VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  96. Robbins P, Monroe Bishop K (2008) There and back again: epiphany, disillusionment, and rediscovery in political ecology. Geoforum 39(2):747–755Google Scholar
  97. Rutherford S (2007) Green governmentality: insights and opportunities in the study of nature’s rule. Progress Hum Geogr 31(3):291–307Google Scholar
  98. Rutherford S (2008) Manufacturing the wild: nature, power, and green governmentality. Ph.D., York University, Canada.
  99. Sagan D (2010) Introduction: Umwelt after Uexküll. In: A foray into the worlds of animals and humans: with “A theory of meaning”. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp 1–34Google Scholar
  100. Said E (1979) Orientalism. Vintage Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  101. 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
  102. Sekhar A (2001) Government of India, Ministry of Water Resources, response to “Dams and development – a new framework for decision-making”.
  103. Singh J, Sidhu RS (2004) Factors in declining crop diversification: case study of Punjab. Econ Political Wkly 39(52):5607–5610Google Scholar
  104. Sneddon C (2002) Water conflicts and river basins: the contradictions of comanagement and scale in Northeast Thailand. Soc Nat Resour 15(8):725–741Google Scholar
  105. Sneddon C, Harris L, Dimitrov R, Özesmi U (2002) Contested waters: conflict, scale, and sustainability in aquatic socioecological systems. Soc Nat Resour 15(8):663–675Google Scholar
  106. Srinivas RK (2001) Demystifying dams and development: the World Commission on Dams and development. Environ Politics 10(3):134–138Google Scholar
  107. Stott PA (1999) Tropical rain forest: a political ecology of hegemonic myth making. Institute of Economic Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  108. Supreme Court of India (2000) Majority opinion, B.N. Kirpal and A.S. Anand, Narmada Bachao Andolan vs Union of India and others. Supreme Court of India, Docket no. 10 SCC 664Google Scholar
  109. Swyngedouw E (1999) Modernity and hybridity: nature, Regeneracionismo, and the production of the Spanish waterscape, 1890–1930. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 89(3):443–465Google Scholar
  110. Swyngedouw E (2004) Scaled geographies: nature, place, and the politics of scale. In: Sheppard E, McMaster RB (eds) Scale and geographic inquiry: nature, society, and method. Blackwell, Oxford/Malden, pp 129–153Google Scholar
  111. Swyngedouw E (2009) The political economy and political ecology of the hydro-social cycle. J Contemp Water Res Educ (142):56–60Google Scholar
  112. Thatte CD (2001) Aftermath, overview and an appraisal of past events leading to some of the imbalances in the report of the World Commission on Dams. Int J Water Resour Dev 17(3): 343–351Google Scholar
  113. Thone F (1935) Nature ramblings: we fight for grass. Sci Newsl 27(717):14Google Scholar
  114. Tomaselli S (1995) Political economy: the desire and needs of present and future generations. In: Fox C, Porter RS, Wolker R (eds) Inventing human science: eighteenth-century domains. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  115. United Nations Environment Programme (2010) WCD+10: uptake, impact and perspectives – a snapshot survey. Water Altern 3(2):475–403Google Scholar
  116. von Uexküll J (1926) Theoretical biology. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., LondonGoogle Scholar
  117. von Uexküll J (1957) A stroll through the worlds of animals and men: a picture book of invisible worlds. In: Schiller CH (ed) Instinctive behavior. International Universities Press, Madison, pp 5–80Google Scholar
  118. von Uexküll J (2010) A foray into the worlds of animals and humans; with “A theory of meaning”. University of Minnesota Press, MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  119. Walker PA (2006) Political ecology: where is the policy? Progress Hum Geogr 30(3):382Google Scholar
  120. Walker PA (2007) Political ecology: where is the politics? Progress Hum Geogr 31(3):363Google Scholar
  121. Watts M (2008) Political ecology. In: Sheppard E, Barnes TJ (eds) A companion to economic geography. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 257–274Google Scholar
  122. Wescoat J, Halvorson S, Mustafa D (2000) Water management in the Indus Basin of Pakistan: a half-century perspective. Int J Water Resour Dev 16(3):391–406Google Scholar
  123. Wolf ER (1972) Ownership and political ecology. Anthropol Q 45(3):201–205Google Scholar
  124. World Commission on Dams (2000) Dams and development: a new framework for decision-making – the report of the World Commission on Dams. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  125. Xenos N (1989) Scarcity and modernity. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  126. Zimmerer KS, Bassett TJ (2003) Political ecology: an integrative approach to geography and environment-development studies. Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ravi Baghel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geography South Asia InstituteHeidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany

Personalised recommendations