Subnational water conflict: Community resistance against dams in Myanmar


Project Leader

Main and assistant supervisors

Project Period

  • 2015 - 2021 


The dissertation project focuses on the role of hydropower dams on subnational conflicts. The subnational dynamics of water conflict and cooperation are growing its importance during the recent years, and water scholars broaden the scope of actors including local communities, private sector actors, and auxiliary state actors to understand the role of water in various social conflicts. The dissertation turns to the intersection between armed conflict and water conflict through a sociological lens, by focusing on community resistance against dams in conflict-affected societies. The empirical setting is situated in pre and post-reform Myanmar where a protracted civil war affected various social groups, and the cases of three hydropower projects are compared to understand the mechanisms and conditions of community resistance. The research mainly employs qualitative methods of data collection through fieldwork and interviews and aims to contribute to a better understanding of civilian agency in mobilizing wartime movements and the interactions between non-violent actors in conflict. The dissertation also relates to the discussions  on the environment and conflict and policy debates on hydropower development and community empowerment.



  • Grech-Madin, C., Döring, S., Kim, K., Swain, A. (2018). Negotiating Water across Levels: A Peace and Conflict “Toolbox” for Water Diplomacy. Journal of Hydrology, 559: 100-109

Working papers with conference presentations

  • Mobilization Under Fire: Wartime social movements and identity politics in Myanmar. Presented at the ISA Conference 2018 


This project is part of the Research School on International Water Cooperation in partnership with the UNESCO Category II Centre on International Water Cooperation, hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).