Main content

Dams, Drugs and Democracy

View on The Global Environmental Justice site

This film was selected by Jason A. Carbine C. Milo Connick Chair of Religious Studies Associate Professor Department of Religious Studies, Whittier College.

Why I chose this film
I selected this film because it shows the interrelations between religion and many other facets of global development: hydropower projects, resource extraction, population displacement, drug addiction, war, venture capital efforts, military rule, and democracy, as well as Myanmar’s foreign relations, especially with China. I am struck by how well the documentary integrates all these themes.

Teacher's guide
Please see the teacher's guide for maps, background information and suggested subjects, questions and activities.

This compelling documentary places Myanmar's Myitsone Dam in the context of the Kachin insurgency which has ravaged the country for more than five decades in the struggle for control the region’s rich resources. Over the course of four years, a team of local journalists lived with villagers displaced by the dam project. They followed dam protesters and interviewed key players: local politicians, insurgent leaders, independent observers, and those behind the delayed Myitsone Dam project. All this comes at a time of significant political and societal change in Myanma.

Environmental Justice Focus
Different environmental, social, and political impacts, on ethnic Kachin people and others, are woven together to show how, as a result of a large-scale hydro-electric project, people are relocated, led into financial dispossession, and fall into drug addiction. 

Related Films

Profit and Loss

From Papua New Guinea to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, native people…

Blood and Gold

Blood and Gold: Inside Burma’s Hidden War explores the intensification…

Waking the Green Tiger

Seen through the eyes of activists, farmers, and journalists, Waking the…