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Area Study: 2 Case Studies Of Areas Around China's Three Gorges Dam, Using A Political Ecology Approach

6444 words - 26 pages

I. Overview of Case and Analytic ApproachDid you know that the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) is projected to be the world's largest dam? It will be nearly four times larger than the Hoover Dam, with a height of 607 feet (185 meters) and a length of about 1.4 miles (Kosowatz, 1999). Using a political ecology approach, an explanation of the social and environmental impacts and outcomes of the Three Gorges Dam project (TGDP) will be provided. I will first introduce the reader to the setting, situation, and problem. The TGDP is located almost 750 miles south of Beijing and 650 miles west of Shanghai, China. In 1994, construction began on the TGD in Sandouping Village, Yichang County, in the Hubei ...view middle of the document...

I argue that the dialectical relationship dealing with human intervention into the environment (Ie: humans remaking nature within the TGDP region) has resulted in environmental and land degradation, as well as many negative resettlement effects at present within Yunyang County and the district of Wuqiao. I explain why land degradation has occurred in these areas, along with its causes. The TGDP has affected populations at local levels, forcing the resettlement and migration of many rural people. Therefore, the human stories and environmental effects of what has taken place will be analyzed in order to explain the social and environmental outcomes occurring at present. Using the analytic approach of political ecology, I explain the causes and outcomes of the TGDP relating to the case study areas and their residents.II. Description of Political Ecology's Conceptual FramePolitical ecology "focuses on the political, economic and social structures and processes which underlie the human practices leading to degradation" (Neumann, 1992, 86). This approach examines (historical) power struggles between people and the land, and between people and people. For example, what are the environmental implications of these power struggles, based on people doing things in different ways? What about the experiences of local land and resource users? As these rural people have been constrained into uprooting their homes and resettling due to the TGDP, how are they now coping? To formulate answers to these questions, political ecology will examine how these human relations play out on the ground, and the environmental consequences and impacts that result. Political ecology's conceptual frame begins at the local-level, and uses a bottom-up approach to look outward, upward, and backward in order to explain the local conditions and outcomes. The approach also takes place-based and non-place-based factors into account, which means framing one's explanation across different scales and different actors. Here is how I am going to lay out the political ecology approach in this paper (Ie: how I am going to use political ecology's conceptual frame) to explain what is happening in the two case study locales within the TGD region and Yangtze River basin.I am going to use political ecology in this paper by starting my case description and conceptual analysis with a place-based analysis of the case studies, examining land use decisions and social relations at the local-level. These include the livelihoods and local level power relations within the areas and region of my case studies, Wuqiao district and Yunyang County. This will enable me to "focus on the land users and the social relations in which they are entwined" (Neumann, 1992, 87). Next, I will look outward, upward, and backward in my case analysis. Looking 'outward' allows me to "trac[e] the linkages of these local relations to wider geographical and social settings" (87) in order to determine the context for the local land...

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