By Christopher Sneddon
Water could appear harmless, yet as a common necessity, it unavoidably intersects with politics by way of acquisition, keep an eye on, and linked applied sciences. whereas we all know greatly concerning the socioecological expenses and advantages of recent dams, we all know some distance much less approximately their political origins and ramifications. In Concrete Revolution, Christopher Sneddon deals a corrective: a compelling historic account of the united states Bureau of Reclamation’s contributions to block expertise, chilly warfare politics, and the social and environmental adversity perpetuated via the USA executive in its pursuit of monetary development and geopolitical power.
Founded in 1902, the Bureau turned enmeshed within the US kingdom Department’s push for geopolitical strength following international conflict II, a reaction to the Soviet Union’s expanding international sway. by way of supplying technical and water source administration recommendation to the world’s underdeveloped areas, the Bureau came across that it will possibly not just supply them with financial counsel and the us with funding possibilities, but in addition forge alliances and shore up a country’s worldwide status within the face of burgeoning communist impression. Drawing on a few foreign case studies—from the Bureau’s early forays into abroad improvement and the release of its overseas actions place of work in 1950 to the Blue Nile research in Ethiopia—Concrete Revolution bargains insights into this ancient damming growth, with important implications for the current. If, Sneddon argues, we will comprehend dams as either technical and political gadgets instead of tools of neutral technology, we will be able to higher perform present debates approximately huge dams and river basin making plans.
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Extra info for Concrete Revolution: Large Dams, Cold War Geopolitics, and the US Bureau of Reclamation
Yet such decisions were subject to the (geo)political desires of both American and host nation governments as well. And these dam site processes themselves transcend the merely local to include flows and networks at the scale of the basin and beyond. Indeed, the connections between large hydroelectric dams and river basin development, as mentioned above, are indelibly linked in the rhetoric of water resource planners and engineers. In theoretical terms, as large dams assembled various kinds of technical, political, biophysical, economic, and symbolic networks throughout the twentieth century, river basins gave those networks a tangible geographical scale.
Following a flurry of communications among Savage, the Bureau and its parent Department of the Interior, American embassy personnel, and affiliates of the State Department, US officials acknowledged that the Chinese Nationalist government had officially requested that the Bureau be appointed to design a dam on the Yangtze and, “when funds are available, to construct the Yangtze-Gorge Project outlined in Mr. ”47 Had the project gone ahead, it would have easily set records as the most expensive and massive engineering feat on the planet to date.
78 I have tried throughout this book to avoid the urge to “go to history” as a tourist without a clear idea of how a particular chron- 22 / Chapter One icle might serve specific conceptual goals. Rather, historical research must maintain a constant dialogue between research goals and the efficacy of the archival materials that bring that history to light. 79 I also recognize that reliance on texts in the form of policy statements, memoranda, technical reports, and the like—both public and classified—is not without epistemological and methodological dilemmas.