The Three Gorges Dam

Katiana Le Mentec, Post-doctorate researcher, associate member (CECMC) has joined the the University of York in March 2014 to work within the research team of Sharon Macdonald.

She has written a PhD entitled Life through the Three Gorges upheaval. Anthropological analysis of interpretation tools and processes of resilience (China) .

Publications related to The Three Gorges Dam in English

to be published in 2014

The Three Gorges Dam and the demiurges: Myth elaboration in contemporary China, in Katharina Lange and Jeanne Féaux de la Croix [Dir], Big Dams in Asia, Africa and Middle East, Water History.

Large-scale infrastructure projects seem to have the tendency to be attached with legendary dimension narratives. In the case of the Three Gorges Dam, a myth of progress was widely developed by the Chinese authorities. Alongside the facet emphasizing modernity and discontinuity, there is a second one,     complementary, that underlines a continuity of the past and an achievement included in a “Chinese     tradition”. Taking into account the specificity of the cultural and political context as well as conflicting perspectives, this paper presents the elaboration process of the Dam official narrative. It demonstrates how     officials have dip into ancient references to glorify and legitimize an infrastructure     including huge social, territorial and ecological consequences but also to fill up the need to relate to a certain vision of the past     and the tradition in a time of deep upheaval. The analysis focuses on the use of Yu the Great, one of the most famous hero-demiurge of China. The first part of the paper introduces the comparison developed by the authorities between the dam construction and Yu’s demiurgic act of world creation and, especially, the shaping of the three gorges landscape. The second part shows how and to what end, this infrastructure is also paralleled with Yu’s politic act of foundation of the first Chinese Dynasty. The last part is dedicated to discourses of people from the Three Gorges area and especially the ones elaborated around legendary references that narrate the Three Gorges Dam through a different point of view.


The Three Gorges Dam Project – Religious Practices and Heritage Conservation. A study of cultural remains and local popular religion in the xian of Yunyang (municipality of Chongqing). China Perspectives 65: 2-12. Full text 

All publications in French and in English

Cite this blog post
Jacqueline Nivard (2014, May 18). The Three Gorges Dam. URBACHINA. Retrieved April 12, 2024, from

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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