Blurring the lines of land, water, and green grabbing: Hydropower expansion and cascading livelihood impacts in Southwest China

Authors: Jean-Fran├žois Rousseau*, University of Ottawa, School of International Development and Global Studies
Topics: China, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Southwest China, Resource grabbing, Hydropower, Farmer livelihoods, Ethnic minorities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8210, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


A global resource rush is driving significant reallocation of land, water, and other natural resources from customary actors to state and corporate actors. Scholarship centered on land, water, and green grabbing has mainly approached these processes individually. This presentation aims to overcome these boundaries and highlight interactions between different types of resource grabs. As such, I shed new insights on discourses promoting changes in resource access and on how the livelihood impacts from such changes are governed. I achieve this through an investigation of how state and corporate actors envisioned the socio-environmental consequences from two hydropower projects built along a section of the Red River in China; how the impacts of both dams manifested in the daily lives of Handai ethnic minority informants settled in between the two projects; and how state authorities handled these impacts. I find that flooding caused by a downstream hydropower reservoir was the main consequence addressed. In contrast, other land-based and water-based impacts were either overseen or ignored by state authorities, while Handai villagers experienced the consequences from accumulating resource grabbing processes.

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