BRUTE FORCE INFRASTRUCTURE


Large scale infrastructure, like big dams, provide power and flood control, but end up having a lot of negative impacts: altering water distribution, hindering fish migrations and altering ecologies for entire regions, often destroying the livelihoods of those living around them. Brute Force Infrastructure undermines bio-cultural diversity. In her ongoing project Be Dammed, artist Carolina Caycedo has documented how the construction of large hydroelectric dams and water reservoirs require mechanisms of social control. El Quimbo Hydroelectric Project, an example of Brute Force Infrastructure on the Magdalena River in Huila, Colombia, “is turning a public body of water into a privatized resource; a process of rural, geographical, and ecological corporatization.”1 Brute Force Infrastructure also cannot adapt to the changing weather distribution patterns being caused by climate change. The huge sums of money required to build such infrastructure mean developing nations are often locked into global sources of capital, which undermine local self sufficiency and community sovereignty. For example in Zambia “The power generated from the Kariba — one of the world’s largest hydroelectric dams, in one of the world’s largest artificial lakes — contributed to Zambia’s political stability and helped turn its economy into one of the fastest growing on the continent. But today, as a severe drought magnified by climate change has cut water levels to record lows, the Kariba is generating so little juice that blackouts have crippled the nation’s already hurting businesses. After a decade of being heralded as a vanguard of African growth, Zambia, in a quick, mortifying letdown, is now struggling to pay its own civil servants and has reached out to the International Monetary Fund for help.”2

1. See Carolina Caycedo, BE DAMMED: A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the USC Graduate School, University of Southern California, August 2014. 2. Norimitsu Onishi, ‘Climate Change Hits Hard in Zambia, an African Success Story’, The New York Times, 12 April 2016.
Mark