Building a nation through a dam: the case of Rogun in Tajikistan (Menga…
Building a nation through a dam: the case of Rogun in Tajikistan (Menga 2015)
Ruling political elites can increase their influence and preserve social control through the realisation of large hydraulic infrastructures
Been used as a social or cultural construct, legitimising the project based on it being a cohesive and patriotic project
Rogun dam if and when finished would be the tallest in the world. Besides it being outdated and too costly has been framed as a fundamental achievment for the country based on the "Rogun ideology"
Nationalism of the Soviet Union has shaped and structured the formation of national identities of successor states.
Former communist leaders took a nationalist turn to enhance the perceived legitimacy of their authority.
Dams are powerful political symbols used to build and reinforce national identities and legitimise those in power
Dam can be portrayed as a symbol of progress and success and can be directly related to the rivalry between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
Nation building and the politics of large dams
A nation is defined as a social or cultural construct with limited spatial an demographic consent
A nation as an "imagined political community"
Difficult to come up with a uncontested definition of the concept
A set of policies aimed at creating common national identity and a sense of patriotism and loyalty towards the state
Ruling elites use symbols and symbolism to motivate and mobilise their populations in nation-building.
Dams ability to dominate nature by using its power to serve the needs of society. A conquest of nature.
The way to keep power without using military force is to use symbols
If a large dam symbolises a nation, whoever question its becomes an enemies of the nation, against the will of the neighbouring country is to incarnate the nation's right to self-determination.
Tajikistan and the Rogun Dam
Originally conceived by the Soviet Union in the 1960s as a dual purpose structure for irrigation water management and hydroelectricity
Political instability and the upper-coffeer dam being destroyed by a flash flood led to the project stopping in 1991
Harsh criticism from Uzbekistan over the decrease in downstream water flow the country needs for irrigated agriculture
Recurrent cuts in energy supplies and frequent energy crises resulted from debts and importing of fossil fuels
Potential energy from Rogun would be remarkable, would double their energy and they could sell to neighbouring countries
The rogun dam has become a centrepiece of an ideological production propagated by the government to legitimise itself, gain consensus and assert its regional power.
the power of suggestion that derives from a structure that stands taller than any other probably helps legitimize this message among those that receive it
The internal Rogun discourse
The creation of meta-discourses and meta-justifications, usually stressing the achievement of national goals and prioritis or the absense of real alternatives are among the classic means of furthering large scale projects a the internal level.
Focused higher up in state-owned media
Promotion in a series of adverts of the buying of bonds in the dam . One year later only raised 10% needed
Internationalising the Rogun discourse
Uzbek opposition ewas successful in making the Rogun Dam an internationally controversial matter
Emphasis placed on a nation as absolute sovereign and exclusive owner of its resources and territory
The Tajik government has consequently used the national media to contest and discredit the Uzbek views n the Rogun Dam, dubbing them unreasonable and baised
Connection between Rogun and the achievement of the MDGs became a message delivered by Tajikistan at the UN
Presents itself as a benevolent country- one that has all the rights to use its natural resources for the benefit of its people
The words of the MEP are used to add credibility and back the Rogun discourse held by the Tajik government at the internal level. This is significant, as it marks the intimate correlation between the two dimensions of the discourse, both internal and international, which reciprocally create and sustain the elite discourse and its representation of the Rogun Dam as a national symbol that epitomizes Tajikistan and its realization as a nation
The Tajikistan government portrayed the dam as a central element in the country's nation-building process, symbolising patriotism and a national identity
Construction of Rogun has been framed as a matter of national pride, a leap forward in national development and an existential achievement for the survival of the county and a matter of life and death
To construct a certain reality and social order
The efforts to create a Rogun ideology have been remarkable and heterogeneous. Imposing an ideology and a worldview