Unimagined communities: developmental refugees, megadams and monumental modernity

Winter 2009

This essay examines the ways in which megadams are violently diversionary in much of the global South, diverting not just water and land away from disempowered communities, but also diverting attention from structural violence. As spectacular monuments to modernity, megadams play a critical role in the politics of visibility and invisibility, casting into shadow the nation’s unimagined communities-those people deemed surplus who become, in effect, developmental refugees in flight from modernity’s ostentatious and hydrologically inefficient edifices.

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