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Open AccessArticle

Disputing the ‘National Interest’: The Depoliticization and Repoliticization of the Belo Monte Dam, Brazil

School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TH, UK
Water 2019, 11(1), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010103
Received: 31 October 2018 / Revised: 20 December 2018 / Accepted: 21 December 2018 / Published: 9 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
The construction of a hydroelectric project transforms the watershed in which it is located, leading to a moment of contestation in which the scheme is challenged by opposition actors. This paper explores the interplay between pro- and anti-dam coalitions contesting the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil by discussing how each group inscribes the project with a particular resonance in policy. Drawing upon the work of Chantal Mouffe on agonism and Tania Murray Li on ‘rendering technical’, the subsequent discussion analyzes semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, and primary documents to explore how the storylines advanced by pro- and anti-dam actors contest the political character of Belo Monte. It is argued that within these storylines, Belo Monte’s positioning within the ‘national interest’ represents a key site of the project’s depoliticization and repoliticization—which are understood as the respective denial and illumination of the project’s location within a wider terrain of political antagonism and conflict. Whilst pro-dam actors assert the apolitical character of the project by foregrounding it within depoliticized questions of economic benefits, anti-dam actors reground the project within a context of political corruption and the circumvention of dissent. With this paper providing evidence of how contests over dam construction are linked to the concealing and/or illumination of the project’s political content, it is argued that the repoliticization of a project by a resistance movement can have consequences far beyond the immediate site of construction. View Full-Text
Keywords: Belo Monte; Brazil; dams; national interest; hydropower; depoliticization; repoliticization; energy policy Belo Monte; Brazil; dams; national interest; hydropower; depoliticization; repoliticization; energy policy
MDPI and ACS Style

Atkins, E. Disputing the ‘National Interest’: The Depoliticization and Repoliticization of the Belo Monte Dam, Brazil. Water 2019, 11, 103. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010103

AMA Style

Atkins E. Disputing the ‘National Interest’: The Depoliticization and Repoliticization of the Belo Monte Dam, Brazil. Water. 2019; 11(1):103. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010103

Chicago/Turabian Style

Atkins, Ed. 2019. "Disputing the ‘National Interest’: The Depoliticization and Repoliticization of the Belo Monte Dam, Brazil" Water 11, no. 1: 103. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010103

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Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

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