The Globalization of Dam Building
Date: 28 - 29 November 2022
Convenors: Vincent Lagendijk (Maastricht, NLD), Frederik Schulze (Bielefeld, GER)
Dams are one of the central infrastructures of globalization and the Anthropocene: they have been built worldwide, have generated networks of globally acting actors, institutions, and companies as well as globally circulating bodies of knowledge and discourses, and they have permanently changed the planet and its river systems. The workshop will explore the complex global history of dams and hydropower plants and discuss their interdisciplinary complexity. Without perspectives from geography, anthropology, political science, regional studies, literature and cultural studies, it would be impossible to describe the social, political, economic, and cultural significance of dams adequately from a historical perspective.
Therefore, the workshop will discuss, in an interdisciplinary setting, essays that analyze the global interconnections of dams in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. All contributions are informed by the argument that dams can contribute to a new understanding of classical narratives such as international cooperation, globalization, success of Western technology, and uniformity of infrastructures. Dams enabled new actors, especially from the global South, to gain agency and challenge global power relations.