Media discourses of Mekong dams: A thematic analysis

Claudio O. Delang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Economic and political stability in Southeast Asia has led to a surge in Mekong dam development and construction in the 2010s. But, not only has the logistics of dam construction changed dramatically in the 35 years since Mekong hydroelectric development began; the public discourse surrounding hydroelectric development in the region has also expanded and diversified. The Mekong, while still seen by some throughout the region as a source of untapped economic opportunity, is also a source of growing concern for states who are losing control of the dams’ ecological impact. Both of these visions of the river are framed in the public imagination of various states by their respective media's chosen depiction of the issue of dam development. Through an examination of the discourse surrounding Mekong hydro development in the four Mekong River Commission (MRC) states, this paper explores the divergent interests of states currently engaged in a complex water diplomacy. Themes drawn from the English-language press coverage in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam are compared to determine how the unique geographic and economic positioning of each state shapes their media's depiction of Mekong dam development. Shared concerns about environmental damage, MRC weakness, and economic futures are also explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-130
Number of pages12
JournalProblemy Ekorozwoju
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cambodia
  • Dams
  • Discourse analysis
  • Laos
  • Mekong
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam


Dive into the research topics of 'Media discourses of Mekong dams: A thematic analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this