Projet scientifique
Axe 2 : Justice et inégalités (2016-2024)

The role of hydrosocial heritages produced by hydrosocial territories in understanding environmental conflicts : The case of Sélune dam removals (France)

Parution d’un article dans la revue Environment and Planning E

Auteurs : Ludovic Drapier, Marie-Anne Germaine et Laurent Lespez Environment and Planning E : Nature and Space, / 2023
Lien vers l’article

Résumé : Dam removal has become one of the most widespread tools for river restoration ; however, these projects can be conflictual. Our aim in this paper is to question the disconnection between the ecological project and the territorial project and to evaluate its role in the emergence of conflicts. Conceptually, we draw on a hydrosocial territory perspective to link the sociopolitical and economic context to the production of a new materiality sustained by power relationships. We focus on the removal of two large dams on the Sélune River in Normandy, France, which has fueled a conflict that has lasted for a decade. By combining multiple data sources (semi-directive interviews, focus group, archives), we highlight five successive and overlapping phases since the dams’ construction at the beginning of the 20th century. Each of these periods are characterized by the (dis)empowerment of certain stakeholders, the evolution of the material environment, and the fluctuation of the hydrosocial territory scales. The case of the Sélune highlights the importance of including long-term historical perspectives in the concept of hydrosocial territory, i.e. thinking about hydrosocial heritages. Hydrosocial heritages constitute a new way to approach non-human actors by taking the historical and contemporary relationships between humans and non-humans into account. It also helps situate the dynamics of a conflict in a deeper historical process, revealing how past dynamics shape contemporary situations.