The River Grew Tired of Us: New Flows along the Mekong River

Lecture | September 17 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Andrew Alan Johnson, Visiting Scholar, CSEAS, UC Berkeley

 Center for Southeast Asia Studies

Along the Mekong River, where it creates the border between Thailand and Laos, hydropower projects have triggered a transformation. Strange floods and ebbs disrupt fish migrations, undercut riverbanks, and sweep away nets. Facing this new landscape, fishermen on the Mekong seek out new, hidden sources of potency that have revealed themselves at the same time as other powers fade in importance. Via an ethnographic study of Mekong 'river beings,' this talk addresses a reconfiguration of sources of power on the river away from the proximate and material, and towards the inaccessible, distant and spectral.

Dr. Andrew Alan Johnson is a CSEAS Visiting Scholar this academic year. While in residence, he will be completing a book manuscript about the impact of hydropower projects in Laos and Thailand on local fishermen. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University, an M.A. degree in Anthropology from George Washington University, and an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary. He is the author of Ghosts of the New City: Spirits, Urbanism and Ruins of Progress in Chiang Mai (University of Hawaii Press, 2014). He has been Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and most recently was Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University.

 cseas@berkeley.edu, 510-642-3609