The Anti-Politics of Mekong Knowledge Production

TitleThe Anti-Politics of Mekong Knowledge Production
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsKäkönen, Hirsch
Secondary AuthorsMolle, Foran, Käkönen
Secondary TitleContested Waterscapes in the Mekong Region
Place PublishedLondon, Sterlin, VA
Key themesFraming Concepts in Water Governance, Hydropower, Impact Assessment, Transboundary Governance

This chapter addresses the process and problems of depoliticization of knowledge, or what we call the ‘anti-politics of knowledge production’. We focus on two seemingly contrasting aspects of the MRC’s work. In the first part the focus is on the MRC’s hydrological models, which form the backbone of the MRC’s knowledge production and the main source for the MRC’s estimations of development impacts. The results of the MRC’s hydrological models have also been the main source of justification for future development plans by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank. This domain of expertise is still relatively closed and exclusive. The second part of the chapter covers the MRC’s response to contestations of the closed nature of its expertise and associated shortcomings of the assessment work. One component of the demands for more participation in knowledge production is that there should be more local knowledge and expertise included in the assessment processes, as well as more diversified and representative interests guiding the knowledge production. Because the MRC depends heavily upon international donors, its public discourse needs to be in line with the current international discourses, where the new orthodoxy includes participatory decision-making. The chapter thus seeks to discuss the rationale of this new participatory turn of the MRC, its promises and limitations in relation to knowledge production, and the role of mainstreamed participation, which tends to reinforce rather than defuse the depoliticization of knowledge.


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Regional, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam

Document Type

Book Chapter

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