Dams Conference

“Dams, Society and the Environment in Zimbabwe”, 19 – 20 September 2018

 Most mega dam projects are established, justified and viewed through the optic of high modernism. This ideology of high modernism leads to an overriding belief in the power of scientific knowledge to alleviate poverty and generally improve the human condition through the development of state sanctioned engineering and technical projects such as irrigation schemes, resettlements and big dams. In essence, the development paradigm of high modernism implies far-reaching departure from history and tradition, its temporal focus is almost exclusively on a scientifically transformed and better future for the people. Generally, mega dams provide affordable hydroelectric power, spur the production of food and biofuels as well as allowing urban growth.  However, the major paradox of big dams such as Kariba, Osborne and Tokwe-Mukosi is that they do not only alter geographies and expose people to new disease ecologies but disrupt daily routines, severe social networks and, mostly, impair livelihoods through displacements of communities without adequate compensations and post-relocation structures. Displaced communities lose power and agency over their lives. This is mainly because dams are not planned and implemented in a more participatory way, they are exclusively established by national governments and international funding partners for ‘public purpose’ and ‘national interest’ imperatives. In the main, some mega dams generate disruptive material impacts such as loss of fields, homes, grazing lands and other private and communal resources. Therefore, the proposed multi-disciplinary conference on “Dams, Society and the Environment in Zimbabwe” aims to bring together scholars from different disciplines and fields to deliberate on the underexplored impacts of dams or artificial water bodies on human development in Zimbabwe. In light of the emerging Tokwe-Mukosi Dam, Zimbabwe’s newest and largest in land mega dam, presenters and participants can envision inclusive and economically just and equitable post-relocation models which ensure that all affected people benefit from the ‘dam construction dividend.’

Papers are expected to explore, amongst others, the following topics:

  • Dams in Africa and the paradoxes of modernity
  • Dams and identity
  • Public health impacts of big dams/new disease ecologies
  • Post-relocation livelihoods
  • Dams and local community empowerment
  • Gender, dams and development
  • Culture, water and displacements
  • Displacements and the internal diasporas
  • Dams and the spirituality of relocation
  • Dams, the media and discourses of development
  • Dams, archaeology and heritage
  • Competing claims and emerging conflicts in the aftermath of Dams
  • Hydro-politics
  • Law, displacements and the dynamics of compensation
  • Irrigation and dams
  • Dams and funding models
  • Water management, environmental protection in river basins
  • Dams and the politics of bio-fuels
  • Dam induced displacements
  • Climate Change and emerging water bodies
  • Tourism and dams
  • Dams and new biospheres
  • Dam induced seismicity/ structural geology/ technophysics
  • Hydrology and Hydraulic engineering
  • Hydrographic surveying and bathymetry

Abstract and submission process

Abstracts of between 300 and 350 words should be simultaneously submitted to damszim@gmail.com  & msshumbam2@gmail.com. In addition, authors should send their full contact details (title, name, address, email-address, telephone and institutional affiliation). These should appear below the abstract.


Publication of papers

We envisage a common publication, such as a special journal issue or an edited book, using selected conference papers.


Important dates

Due date for abstracts: 30 July 2018

Feedback on abstracts: 10 August 2018

Due date for full papers: 5 September 2018

Conference dates: 19 and 20 September 2018


Registration fees

The conference registration fee is $100. This fee will cover conference material, excursion to Tokwe-Mukosi Dam as well as meals for the duration of the conference.


Travel and Accommodation

All presenters are responsible for their travel and accommodation. Information on ideal hotels and affordable lodges in the city of Gweru will be furnished to all conference participants.


Venue: Midlands State University, Gweru, Zimbabwe

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