Follow us


Article by Öhman, May-Britt

Challenging the modern ideal of human bodies as being in control both of bodies of nature and of the bodies of technology made to control nature, this chapter considers the vulnerability of large-scale hydropower dams and the intimate interdependencies between dam bodies, water bodies, and human bodies. It proposes a water-centered, rather than human-centered, reading of rivers and in particular of dammed rivers, through an understanding of hydropower dams as vulnerable bodies. Once constructed by human beings, hydropower dams take on a life of their own and become living organisms as they age, interact with land and rivers, and withstand and react to changing environmental conditions. This chapter also discusses processes of knowledge production in which different bodies of knowledge come to be perceived as embodied or disembodied and are granted status as primitive or scientific. Taking her point of departure in her own embodied history, the author seeks to retrace indigenous Sámi understandings of human cultural interconnectedness with nature. With a focus on the specific river Julevädno running through Sápmi in the north of Sweden, the chapter draws attention to the unpredictable agency of water and the porosity of human bodies, emphasizing risk and vulnerability as essential elements of their interrelation.

Research Area:
Deep Water