26 min

A Dam’s Downstream Consequences SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human

    • Social Sciences

Discussions about the impacts of dams around the world are often focused on the displacement of communities due to the creation of reservoirs and the submergence of towns and cities. What happens when a dam affects more people downstream than it displaces upstream? How does a dam impact humans living downstream?In this episode, Parag Jyoti Saikia shares how the Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project, one of India’s largest dams under construction, will impact the lifeways of Indigenous communities living downstream of the dam. The dam will not displace them. Instead, it will change the ways in which the river currently flows. Delving into people's relationship with the river and their understanding of its flows, Parag describes the dam’s environmental, sociocultural, and political consequences for communities living downstream.Parag Jyoti Saikia is studying the construction of a hydropower dam in India to understand how infrastructures in the making shape everyday life, the environment, and geopolitics. He is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His research is supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s Dissertation Fieldwork Grant and the Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship. For nearly a decade, Parag has been associated with grassroots organizations working on dams, rivers, and the environment. He has been writing about these issues in English and Assamese, his mother tongue.Check out these related resources:
“Writing Indigenous Oral Tradition to Fight a Dam”
“The UNESCO Site That Never Was”
“Damming the Northeast”
“Arunachal’s Unfinished Lower Subansiri Dam Could Be Tomb for India’s Giant Hydropower Projects”
“Bhupen Hazarika Setu and the Politics of Infrastructure”

Discussions about the impacts of dams around the world are often focused on the displacement of communities due to the creation of reservoirs and the submergence of towns and cities. What happens when a dam affects more people downstream than it displaces upstream? How does a dam impact humans living downstream?In this episode, Parag Jyoti Saikia shares how the Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project, one of India’s largest dams under construction, will impact the lifeways of Indigenous communities living downstream of the dam. The dam will not displace them. Instead, it will change the ways in which the river currently flows. Delving into people's relationship with the river and their understanding of its flows, Parag describes the dam’s environmental, sociocultural, and political consequences for communities living downstream.Parag Jyoti Saikia is studying the construction of a hydropower dam in India to understand how infrastructures in the making shape everyday life, the environment, and geopolitics. He is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His research is supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s Dissertation Fieldwork Grant and the Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship. For nearly a decade, Parag has been associated with grassroots organizations working on dams, rivers, and the environment. He has been writing about these issues in English and Assamese, his mother tongue.Check out these related resources:
“Writing Indigenous Oral Tradition to Fight a Dam”
“The UNESCO Site That Never Was”
“Damming the Northeast”
“Arunachal’s Unfinished Lower Subansiri Dam Could Be Tomb for India’s Giant Hydropower Projects”
“Bhupen Hazarika Setu and the Politics of Infrastructure”

26 min