India's Narmada dams controversy: interdisciplinary examples of global media advocacy

Jane Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What sources will contemporary historians use when they reflect on resistance to globalisation by regional and environmental groups such as India's NBA (Narmada Bachao Andolan or 'Save the Narmada Movement')? As the country is the world's third most important dam builder, consistent mass protest against construction of the 3,200 Narmada dams in this enormous river valley over almost 20 years must surely merit further study. Campaigners seem to have developed a sense of history, but how do some of their most well-known international works of communication conform to existing models of media advocacy? This article assesses the nature of two documentary films - Anand Patwardhan's (with Simantini Dhuru) A Narmada Diary (1997) and Franny Armstrong's Drowned Out (2004) - and the writings of Arundhati Roy, all emanating from the Narmada Dams controversy. As works of advocacy, these media communications popularised the Narmada conflict internationally, and in the process also championed fresh styles of communication. These three works represent interdisciplinary examples which, through their narratives and styles, have brought an extended creative and political repertoire of 'engaged' journalism on development issues to mainstream outlets outside of India. These examples allow us to test the continuing relevance of certain aspects of counter-hegemonic discourses, as presented in existing academic work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-85
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of international communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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