Dammed and Diversionary: The multi-dimensional framing of Brazil’s Belo Monte dam

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Belo Monte is one of the most divisive dams in Brazilian history, becoming entangled in a thirty-year struggle between pro- and anti-dam interests over the role of the facility within a complex web of Brazilian development and the future of the Brazilian Amazon. This research explores how the proponents of Belo Monte have adopted a number of policy frames as a means of deflection, to divide the opposition and legitimize the project. It investigates this claim by analyzing speeches given within the Brazilian Câmara dos Deputados and the public speeches of high-level politicians. These sources, organized around a framework previously identified by Ahlers et al. (2014), show that the government and individual politicians have used a number of framing devices to legitimize the hydroelectric facility. Principal methods of framing used also demonstrate how contemporary narratives (e.g. sustainability) have been employed to deflect opposition criticism and widen the scheme’s perceived beneficiaries. In doing so, this paper demonstrates how the transformation represented by Belo Monte encompassed not only a process of engineering but also a re-articulation of the complex and its role in modern Brazil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-292
Number of pages17
JournalSingapore Journal of Tropical Geography
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2017


  • Brazil
  • Belo Monte
  • political framing
  • Amazon
  • Dams

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