Year: 2007 Source: Critique of Anthropology, v.27, no.2, (June 2007), p.147-163 SIEC No: 20070945

In this article, I employ the concept of `unintended consequence’ for my analysis of an elderly woman’s suicide in China. The larger socio-political context of the narrative that will follow is the building of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. As the largest hydropower project ever built in the world, this dam entailed the involuntary resettlement of more than 1 million people, mostly rural residents living along the river’s middle reaches. The thrust of my analysis is to demonstrate that analyses of state power and modernization processes need to pay more attention to the question of how individuals deal with drastic social change and how they conduct their interpersonal relationships in ways that lead to unintended consequences. Such consequences are far more complicated than social theories that lead us to view society—state relationships as one-dimensional configurations would allow.