Structural reconfigurations of nature & society in the Mekong region & beyond.

Nicolas Weydert

Resource, industrial and infrastructure investments have driven mainland Southeast Asia’s growth since the 1990s, but these have catalysed dramatic social and environmental change. The impacts of specific projects and activities are typically well documented, but we are yet to grasp the wider implications of change processes that are accelerating, interacting and accumulating: are we seeing a fundamental “rupture” of social and environmental systems in this region?

Our research on hydro-electric dams in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand addresses this question, and considers what risks and opportunities are raised for dialogue and inclusive policy. This page is a platform to share research insights, field observations, photo essays, and other writings. We also want to network with practitioners and scholars working on related themes in and beyond Southeast Asia, so if you would like to contribute a piece based on your work, please get in touch.

This project is supported by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery program. The Rupture project team is comprised of Sango Mahanty (ANU), Sarah Milne (ANU), Phuc Xuan To (ANU), Keith Barney (ANU) and Philip Hirsch (University of Sydney/Chiang Mai University). Collaborators and advisors include: Wolfram Dressler (University of Melbourne), Christian Lund (University of Copenhagen), Jonathan Rigg (National University of Singapore), Benedict Kerkvliet (ANU) and Nancy Peluso (University of California Berkeley).

Introducing ‘Rupture: nature–society transformation in mainland Southeast Asia’

Studying structural reconfigurations of nature and society in the Mekong region and beyond.

RUPTURE: Nature Society Transformation

Rupture—conceptualising nature-society transformation

Sango Mahanty explains how mega infrastructure projects such as hydropower are dramatically transforming nature and society in our region.

‘Rupture’ published elsewhere

Ruptured Worlds: a photo essay on the Lower Sesan 2 Dam, Cambodia

...the numbers we use to describe a dam’s impact—hectares under water, number of people displaced, tonnes of fish lost—are often inadequate or ‘flat’.

Under the Water: Cambodian Artist Sreymao Sao on the Lived Experience of Hydropower Dams

Sreymao Sao’s work explores villagers’ changing experience of their rivers, lands, and lives.

Lower Sesan 2 Hydropower Dam, Sesan District, Stung Treng Province, Cambodia

Frictions continue over population resettlement, livelihood impacts, human rights violations, and concerns about the project’s contribution to cumulative environmental change in the Mekong Basin.