Christopher S. Sneddon

Academic Appointments

Chair of Geography
Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies

My research and teaching interests come together around the question of how to reconcile human activities with the long-term resilience and vulnerability of ecological systems. Most of my work has focused on human uses of water and, in particular, on the transformation of river basins due to large-scale development. Much of this research has focused on settings in the tricontinental world during the twentieth century-e.g., the Mekong River Basin-but has applications to a variety of historical and geographical contexts. One of my primary interests is analysis of social conflicts over water, and a recent project (working with colleagues in Dartmouth's Geography Department) examines the social dimensions of river restoration involving dam removals in New England. At a theoretical level, I draw inspiration from ongoing discussions in political ecology, ecological theory, concepts of power, science and technology studies, and ideas regarding nature-society relations. I completed in 2015 book titled Concrete Revolution: Large Dams, Cold War Geopolitics, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation published by the University of Chicago Press. At Dartmouth, I teach courses on political ecology, nature-society relations, qualitative research methods, the geopolitics of development, the envrionmental politics of Southeast Asia, and environmental history.

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My education and experiences over the past 25 years reflect these interests. After receiving a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin in 1987, I served in the U.S. Peace Corps as a fisheries volunteer in the province of Kalinga-Apayao, Republic of the Philippines from 1988 to 1990. This was a transformative experience, and paved the way for my current interests in combining ecological knowledge and social theory to address complex environmental dilemmas in the context of internaitonal development. I completed my M.S. in Resource Policy and Planning at the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment in 1993. My Master's research focused on environmental movements in Southeast Asia. My doctoral research, which culminated with a Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Minnesota in 2000, focused on conflicts over water in Northeast Thailand. 

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Fairchild 123
HB 6017
Environmental Studies
The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
B.S. University of Wisconsin
M.S. University of Michigan
Ph.D. University of Minnesota

Selected Publications

Sneddon, C., Magilligan, F. J., & Fox, C. A. 2021. Peopling the environmental state: River restoration and state power. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2021.1913089.

Fox, C. A., and Sneddon, C. S. 2019. Political Borders, Epistemological Boundaries, and Contested Knowledges: Constructing Dams and Narratives in the Mekong River Basin. Water, 11(3), 413.

Sneddon, C., Magilligan, F. J., & Fox, C. A. 2017. Science of the Dammed: Expertise and Knowledge Claims in Contested Dam Removals. Water Alternatives, 10(3):677-696.

Fox, C., Magilligan, F., and C. Sneddon. 2016. “You kill the dam, you are killing a part of me”: Dam removal and the environmental politics of river restoration. Geoforum 70:93-104.

Sneddon, C. 2015. Concrete Revolution: Large Dams, Cold War Geopolitics, and the US Bureau of Reclamation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sneddon, C. and C. Fox. 2012. Inland capture fisheries and large river systems: A political economy of Mekong fisheries. Journal of Agrarian Change 12(2/3):279-299.

Sneddon, C. 2012. The “Sinew of Development”: Cold War geopolitics, technological expertise and river alteration in Southeast Asia, 1954-1975. Social Studies of Science 42(4):564-590.

Sneddon, C. and C. Fox. 2011. The Cold War, the US Bureau of Reclamation and the technopolitics of river basin development, 1950-1970. Political Geography, 30(8):450-460.

Sneddon, C. and C. Fox. 2008. Power, development and institutional change: participatory governance in the Lower Mekong basin. World Development 35(12):2161-2181.

Sneddon, C. 2007. “Nature’s” materiality and the circuitous paths of accumulation: dispossession of riverine fisheries in Cambodia. Antipode 39(1):167-193.

Sneddon, C., Howarth, R. B. and R. B. Norgaard. 2006. Sustainable Development in a Post-Brundtland World. Ecological Economics 57:253-268.

Sneddon, C. and C. Fox. 2006. Rethinking transboundary waters: a critical hydropolitics of the Mekong basin. Political Geography 25:181-202.

Sneddon, C. 2003. Reconfiguring scale and power: the Khong-Chi-Mun project in Northeast Thailand. Environment and Planning A 35:2229-2250.

Sneddon, C. 2002. Altered rivers and scales of conflict: the case of Nam Phong basin, Northeast Thailand. Society and Natural Resources 15(8):725-742.

Sneddon, C. 2000. ‘Sustainability’ in ecological economics, ecology and livelihoods: a review. Progress in Human Geography 24(4): 521-549.

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