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Week 20: Nature and Development, 1945-2000. Democracy and Futurity.

Rivers around the world were dammed up and diverted in the mid-twentieth century on a scale far larger than the undertakings of the colonial period. Such large-scale projects of techno-economic development contributed to ways of governing in relation to the future that took the management of nature as their object and the representation of nature as their project.

Seminar Questions

  • In what ways did nature become an object of economic development in the mid-twentieth century and after?
  • Through what kinds of strategy were large-scale projects of infrastructural development such as dams used to introduce novel technologies of economic and political governance?

Essential Readings

Chris Sneddon, ''The Sinew of Development': Cold War Geopolitics, technical expertise, and water resource development in southeast Asia, 1954-1975', Social Studies of Science, 42 (2012)

Timothy Mitchell, ‘Economentality: How the Future Entered Government’, Critical Enquiry 40 ( 2014)

Further Readings

David Ekbladh, Great American Mission: Modernization and the Construction of an American World Order (Princeton University Press, 2011).

Sarah Pritchard, 'From Hydroimperialism to Hydrocapitalism: ‘French’ Hydraulics in France, North Africa, and Beyond', Social Studies of Science, 42 (2012)

Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts (UC Berkeley Press, 2002).

R.P. Tucker, ‘Containing Communism by Impounding Rivers: American Strategic Interests
and the Global Spread of High Dams in the Early Cold War,’ in J.R. McNeill and C.R. Unger (eds) Environmental Histories of the Cold War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Dipesh Chakrabarty, ‘Climate Change’, Critical Enquiry, 41 (2014)