Author Biography

Brendan A. Galipeau (MA, Applied Anthropology, Oregon State University, 2012) is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. His research interests and publications focus on environmental and economic anthropology of hydropower development, agricultural practices, and non-timber forest products in Southwest China. His current research explores economic and ecological marginalization and issues of indigeneity and identity formation as they relate to agricultural change and commodification of red wine and grape production and non-timber forest product collection among Tibetans in Southwest China.


This work discusses pre-resettlement socioeconomic vulnerabilities to large hydropower dam construction as researched in a Tibetan village on the Mekong River in China’s Yunnan Province. Utilizing a vulnerability framework that investigates/engages local knowledge, quantitative and qualitative ethnographic research discovered that prior to resettlement, villagers have developed a very unique economy, engaging themselves in commodity exchanges built upon the highly prized caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) and other forest products. Government and private incentives given with the introduction of grape and red wine have become equally important as cash-generating agriculture. All of these economic resources are shown to display significant vulnerability to future dam induced resettlement due to locale based access which will likely be lost. These findings point to an applied economic development approach to resettlement and economic development in China’s western minority regions. The article makes specific recommendations for enhanced local involvement and prior consultation in resettlement planning for hydropower dam construction.

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