Barnaby Dye | Student | Profiles
Barnaby Dye

Mr Barnaby Dye

Research topic:
The Politics of Dam Resurgence: High Modernist Statebuilding and the Rising Powers in Africa

Research Themes:
Public Policy Political Economy Political economy and international political economy 

Academic Profile

Thesis Research

Following a decade that saw a near cessation in dam building across the world, and particularly in Africa, hydropower is back on the agenda with projects and funding widespread. My research seeks to interrogate this trend, asking why and how this resurgence is happening. It does this through taking three representative cases of recent hydropower projects in Rwanda and Tanzania, the Nyabarongo, Rusumo and Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower projects. Through these cases the thesis explores a range of financiers and builders in this phase of hydropower, including actors from India, the World Bank and Brazil respectively.
At an international level, the research examines the rationales behind these governments and institutions engagement in African dam-building and the practises they adopt. At a national level it explores the histories of these projects and their context in Rwanda and Tanzania’s energy sectors. This includes how the three case studies fit into the planning of new electricity generation projects in the two countries. The dam project’s locale is also interrogated. The inclusion of communities in knowledge-production and decision-making is assessed, as is the planners’ understandings of each dam’s local socio-environmental context. These three levels contribute to an understanding of the rationales and practises of this latest phase of resurgent hydropower.
Top-down and teleological modernisation theory has provided the ideological drive behind dam-building in past eras. Consequently, the thesis aims to build theory on whether the ideological drive and practises of modernisation theory, critiqued for their expert-orientated and elite-centric knowledge-production and decision-making, are continuing. Through this, the research contributes to broader reflections about the workings of a more infrastructure-heavy phase of global development.

Areas of Expertise  

Hydropolitics, The Political Ecology of Dam Building, Development Project Implementation, High Modernistation Theory, Infrastructure Projects, Participation in Development, Rwanda and Tanzania’s Political Economy, the Energy Sector, the Foreign Policies of India and Brazil, ‘Emerging Powers' in Africa, 


Confernce Organised 

2017 2-Day Conference: “Is High Modernism Returning? A Symposium on Political Ideology and Practise” May 2-3rd (Supported by Green Templeton College, the ESRC, African Studies Centre and DPIR)

Seminar Series:

Co-convene Oxford Central Africa Forum (2015-Present)

Created and Co-convened Oxford University Natural Resources in society seminar series (2014-Present)

Assisted Oxford University China-Africa Network Annual Conference (2015)


Scholarship: Economic and Social Science Research Council 3+ PhD

Awards DPhil: Dept. of Politics and International Relations Writing Up Award (2017)



Geography BA at the University of Cambridge 

Master's in Environment and Development at King's College, London. 

Teaching specialism, interests and experience

Teaching 2017-2018 Lecturer and Tutor in Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa (208); Department of Politics and International Relations


Awarded: Dept. of Politics and International Relations Writing Up Award (2017)




“The return of ‘high modernism’? Exploring the changing development paradigm through a Rwandan case study of dam construction”. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 10 (2), 303–324.

 Book Review

Dye, B., 2017, “Transboundary Cooperations in Rwanda: Organization Patterns of Companies, Projects, and Foreign Aid Compared” in Journal of Modern African Studies, 55 (3) 532-533,


Academic Blogs:

Politics Inspires Article (edited blog): What can Rwanda’s dam building tell us about its politics? 

King’s Water (edited blog): Seeing like a Water Secure State  

LSE Africa Blog As India-Africa ties are boosted, a shift in this South-South relationship is taking place

                      Brazil’s new government could signal a new direction for its relationship with African countries


Consultancy: World Wildlife Fund, January 2017

• With Joerg Hartmann, June 2017, The True Cost of Power: The Facts and Risks of Building Stiegler’s Gorge Hydropower Dam in the Selous Game Reserve
• Authored Strategic Assessment on history, actors and future scenarios

Advised, 2016 : Study on East African Energy Market for the Department of International Development

Conference Papers and Presentations

Presented At

2017: European Conference on African Studies 2017 (Basel, Switerland) 

Researching Africa Day (Africa Studies Centre, University of Oxford)

Is High Modernism Returning?  A Symposium on Political Ideology and Practise (Green Templteon College), University of Oxford)

Informal Briefing, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Whitehall, London 

2016: Institute of Defence Studies, Delhi; African Studies Association of India and Centre for African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Centre for African Studies, University of Mumbai.

2015: Royal Geographical Society’s Annual Conference 2015 (Exeter, UK)