Displaced People, Displaced Energy, Displaced Memories: A Social and Environmental History of the Building of the Cahora Bassa Dam [Mozambique], 1975-2007


ACLS Fellowship Program



Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow


This study explores the social, ecological, and cultural consequences of the building of the Cahora Bassa dam. It challenges the dominant state-centric narrative heralding dams as icons of modernity. Peasants, fisher folk, and the Africans who built the dam tell a very different story. When they speak of the dam, they recall memories of violent evictions from their flooded homelands and the disruption of community. They remember the harsh labor conditions on the dam site,and express concern over the decline of fish, the obliteration of sacred sites, and the fact that the highly visible power lines do not bring them electricity. In short, they offer an alternative narrative whose overarching themes are about displaced people, displaced energy, and displaced memories.