A major part of my work the past few years has involved researching the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. It is located on the Xingu River, and is slated to be the world’s third-biggest dam when it is completed (likely around 2018).
In my 2014 article in the Journal of Latin American Studies, I use a case study of Belo Monte as a lens through which to understand Brazil’s changing environmental norms. In my 2015 piece in International Environmental Agreements: Law, Policy, Economics, activism surrounding the dam project serves to illustrate Gramscian hegemony theories in relation to the green economy. A piece I co-authored with a former student, Cristiane Dias, appears in Environmental Impact Assessment Review, detailing problems in the Belo Monte EIA and related problems with the Belo Sun I’ve talked about the project on Al Jazeera English TV, as well.
Belo Monte has a 30+ year history as a development project. I began learning about Belo Monte when in 2006 I was still in early stages of my doctoral field research. Much to my bewilderment, I found myself in the middle of a pro-dam manifestation in the city of Altamira, where I lived. While the government was in the midst of creating conservation areas like national parks and Extractive Reserves in the Xingu river basin, at the same time, longer-term plans were being made to construct the dam as part of a broader strategy for expanding energy output from Amazonian rivers in the name of the green economy and sustainable development.
Al Jazeera, Inside Story Americas (television). The Real Cost of Brazil’s Dam. February 1, 2012.