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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Displaced People, Displaced Energy, and Displaced Memories: The Case of Cabora Bassa, 1970-2004
Author:Isaacman, AllenISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Mozambique
History and Exploration
Development and Technology
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40034919
Abstract:Despite their different social and economic agendas and ideological predilection, Mozambique's colonial regime, socialist postcolonial State and its free-market successor each heralded the Cahora Bassa Dam, which was constructed in the 1970s in the Zambesi River, as a potent symbol of the power of science and social engineering to master nature and ensure human progress. However, absent from the official State narratives about the project are the oral testimonies of the people of Mozambique who lived adjacent to the river. Their accounts not only challenge the prevailing discourse on Cahora Bassa, but offer an interior view of life before and after the dam. These stories highlight the consequences of the dam, showing how its construction set in motion long-term processes that brought devastating hydrological, ecological and social consequences for riparian communities living adjacent to the flood plains. Based on interviews held in 1998, 2000 and 2001 with displaced peasants, this paper first looks at the pre-existing physical and agricultural regimes. This is followed by an examination of the ways in which peasants coped with and adapted to the ecological changes in the river basin. The peasants' personal narratives also call into question the official representation of the proposed new dam at Mphanda Nkuwa as an engine for prosperity and progress. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]