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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

IAS Staff

Publication details for Professor Veronica Strang

Strang, V. (2013). Going Against the Flow: the biopolitics of dams and diversions. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture and Ecology Special Issue 17(2): 161-173.

Author(s) from Durham


Interactions with water are indicative not only of relationships between human groups but also of relationships with other species. In biopolitical economies few things express dominance over other species as clearly as damming and redirecting flows of water to give primacy to human needs. Yet despite growing opposition, dams—especially large ones—are still presented triumphantly, as symbols of successful nationhood and economic development. Building on ethnographic research in Australia, this chapter examines the allure of dams. It suggests that they represent not only a competition for wealth, but also an aspiration for control over life itself and the vitality of “living water.”

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