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Pipe Dreams: Water, Development and the Work of The Imagination in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley

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Ethiopia's lower Omo valley is currently undergoing profound changes, due in part to water development interventions. The state and corporate partners are implementing large dam and irrigation schemes; missionaries are attempting to install safe water supplies. We explore the reception of these projects by local people, and their implications for intergroup relations. Water development schemes, we argue, function as technologies of the imagination, stimulating people to imagine different kinds of futures. These dynamics are illustrated through ethnographic work on the reception of new wells drilled by European missionaries in Nyangatom.

Keywords: DEVELOPMENT; ETHIOPIA; IMAGINATION; OMO VALLEY; PASTORALISM; WATER

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2019

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  • Nomadic Peoples is an international journal published by the White Horse Press for the Commission on Nomadic Peoples, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Its primary concerns are the current circumstances of all nomadic peoples around the world and their prospects. Its readership includes all those interested in nomadic peoples, scholars, researchers, planners and project administrators.
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