Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Paul K. Gellert

Committee Members

Rachelle Scott, Damayanti Banerjee


The purpose of this research is to make explicit the arts of government, defined as a field of power in the Foucauldian sense, employed by the World Bank in the cases of Pak Mun Dam in Thailand and Nam Theun II Dam in Lao PDR. Much of the literature on the latter case, both from the World Bank and its critics, focuses on the incorporation of conservation practices and the creation of state apparatuses which account for natural resources and local populations through a discourse of environmentalism. Using World Bank planning and evaluation documents, I argue that although these practices represent an escalation of the role of environmentalism in the justificatory logic for new hydropower projects, they do not represent a change in the World Bank’s major justificatory mechanism, the presence or absence of institutional structures necessary for present and future project implementation. That is, project justifications continue to rest, on the one hand, on an already established relationship with the borrower such that the World Bank’s technical and managerial expertise can be easily transmitted, or, on the other hand, the presumed likelihood that such a relationship can be established. In either case, the emphasis is on the creation of what I call a seasoned borrower and its inclusion into the production of knowledge legible to development discourse.

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