Review of Jerome Whitington “Anthropogenic Rivers: The Production of Uncertainty in Lao Hydropower

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    Jerome Whitington’s Anthropogenic Rivers develops a rich and original set of insights on large-scale infrastructure projects, environmental controversy, knowledge and expertise, and the nature of uncertainty. Foucault, Deleuze, and Science and Technology Studies are brought to bear on the ontological problems of sustainability in Mekong hydropower. The setting is the Southeast Asian country of Laos between 2001–2010, during which Whitington conducted ethnographic research on Laos’s development model of nature-based capitalism. Laos was just opening up its investment regime to foreign actors, mobilizing capital and expertise to develop the country’s rivers into hydroelectric resources. As an anthropologist, Whitington takes a deep dive under the surface of competing claims regarding hydropower’s (un)sustainability, at a time and place where neoliberal actors and models of environmental governance were articulating with a “post-socialist condition of Lao developmentalism” (39) in complex and unexpected ways
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)170-172
    JournalPacific Affairs
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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