Hydropower, Anti-Politics, and the Opening of New Political Spaces
Amelie Huber Deepa Joshic
Hydropower has lately been advocated by a multi-scalar public–private policy nexus for marrying objectives of green growth and climate mitigation. Such discursive constructions are reminiscent of a consensual development politics, which contradicts and overlooks long-standing socio-environmental controversies surrounding large dams. Here we argue that anti-political hydropower governance also risks fueling inherent societal antagonisms, with unexpected outcomes. Drawing on qualitative empirical research in Sikkim, Northeast India, we illustrate how attempts by state and private actors to restrict contestation of hydropower projects were countered with unprecedented voice and agency of affected communities, indicating nascent processes of politicization and democratization “from below”.