After the deluge: Revisiting displacement and resettlement at the Three Gorges Dam, China

Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)

Dr Brooke Wilmsen

Persons evicted to make way for development projects are inevitably impoverished. To counter this pattern and redistribute the gains of such projects to those who sacrifice the most, the Chinese government has instituted a new approach to involuntary resettlement. The Three Gorges Dam is the first test case of this approach. In 2003-04, a survey of 487 households was completed. Using sustainable livelihood theory, this research explores what happened to the re-settlers eight years on to inform the operations of the Chinese government, development banks and consultancies.

Dr Brooke Wilmsen

This project is funded the Australian Research Council, DE120101037, 2012-2017 [Part-time] ($375,000).


  1. Wilmsen B., (2018) Is land-based resettlement still appropriate for rural people in China? A longitudinal study of displacement at the Three Gorges Dam. Development and Change 49(1): 170-198.
  2. Wilmsen B., (2017): Damming China's rivers to expand its cities: the urban livelihoods of rural people displaced by Three Gorges Project. Urban Geography 39(3): 345-366.
  3. Wilmsen, B. and van Hulten, A. (2017) Following resettlers through time: The value of longitudinal data collection for understanding the livelihood impacts of the Three Gorges Dam, China. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, Special Edition 35(1): 94-105.
  4. Wilmsen, B. (2016) Expanding capitalism in rural China through land acquisition and land reforms. Journal of Contemporary China 25(101): 701-717. [Selected as the 2016 Journal of Contemporary China Editor's Choice Article]
  5. Wilmsen, B. and Webber, M. (2016) Mega dams and resistance: The case of the Three Gorges Dam, China, In Jean Grugel, Anders Uhlin, Jewellord Nem Singh and Lorenza Fontana. Demanding Rights: Claiming Justice in the Global South, Palgrave Macmillan, London.
  6. Wilmsen, B. (2016) After the deluge: The longer-term impacts of the Three Gorges Dam. World Development 84: 41-54.
  7. Wilmsen, B. and Wang, M. (2015) Voluntary and involuntary resettlement in China: A false dichotomy? Development in Practice 25(5): 612-627.
  8. Wilmsen, B. and Webber, M. (2015) What can we learn from the practice of development-forced displacement and resettlement for organised resettlements in response to climate change? Geoforum 58(1): 76-85.
  9. Wilmsen, B. and Webber, M. (2015) Displacement and resettlement as a mode of capitalist transformation: Evidence from the People's Republic of China, In Price, S. and Singer, J. Global implications of development, disasters and climate change: Responses to displacement from Asia Pacific, Routledge, Oxon.
  10. Duan, Y. and Wilmsen, B. (2012) Addressing the Resettlement Challenges at the Three Gorges Project. International Journal of Environmental Studies 69(3): 461-474.


For further information about this project, please contact:

Dr Brooke Wilmsem
Department of Social Inquiry
La Trobe University
T: +61 3 9479 6693