Lecture 5, 6/7

Thinking Big: Infrastructure and Development
Today’s lecture is about scale. Taking dams as an example of the “new kind of socio-technical system” described by Leo Marx in “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept,” we look at the role played by large and complex infrastructural projects in development, at the ideas behind them, and at the complex financing that made them possible. We discuss the consequences of such undertakings on the poor, and we introduce the topic of next lecture, i.e. the ‘rethinking’ of scale in a new kind of  development projects.

Required readings
– Smillie, I. 2000. “Chapter 3: The Best of the West: Thinking Big.” In Mastering the Machine Revisited: Poverty, Aid and Technology, pp. 35-48. Verlag.
– Mitchell, T. 1991. “America’s Egypt: Discourse in the Development Industry.” Middle East Report, pp.255-272.

Background readings
– Arp, H.P. and Baumgärtel, K. 2005. Case Study: The Consequences of the Akosombo Dam. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.
– Easterly, W. 2002. “Aid for Investment” in The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics. MIT Press.

Other resources
– Polgreen, L. 2013. “Groups of Emerging Nations Plan to Form Development BankThe New York Times, and economist Dani Rodrik thoughts on the plan, “What the World Needs from the BRICS,” Project Syndacate.