chapter  6
16 Pages

USING COMMUNITY MEMORY AGAINST THE ONSLAUGHT OF DEVELOPMENT

One of the sad facts that development anthropologists, economic and environmental analysts, and other scholars have learnt about large-scale development projects of the past fifty years is that the human costs of such projects often exceed any economic benefits derived from them. In a typical development scenario, such as construction of a hydroelectric dam, communities-the people, their homes, churches, businesses, schools and public institutions-are uprooted and resettled to a less desirable environment. A displaced community is stripped of that delicate interweaving of social, material, environmental and spatial relationships that combine to create viable settlements. Resettlement almost always results in separating the affected population from their land and from access to other traditional resources. Ultimately, and in nearly every case, it leads to impoverishment and social disintegration.2 This, however, is the story of one community that experienced developmentinduced displacement and managed to beat the odds, a community that not only survived displacement but lives to tell about it.