The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation
Go Back

Mr Brian Cook

Nationality: Canada

Year: 2007

Subject Area: Science and Engineering

My research focuses on flood management in Bangladesh. It uses Science and Technology Studies methods, along with postcolonial critiques, to investigate flood management decision making in one of the world's most flood-prone nations. The objective of the research is to better understand the role of knowledge. In particular, the role hypothesis that foreign knowledge has dominated Bangladeshi flood management for more than a century. For example, a history of colonial and international involvement means that critiques of past strategies, such as the much maligned Flood Action Plan, are in actuality critiques of foreign interventions by foreign academics, most of which viewed flood damage reduction as a relatively low priority compared to economic development, agricultural reform or the maintenance of free-market capitalism. Alternatively, critiques that advocate a 'return to local knowledge' have swung wildly in the opposite direction, replacing economic emphasis with development goals such as empowerment of the impoverished, improved gender equality or good governance. Overall, this shift maintains the foreign intervention in flood management. This research aims to explore this situation by discussing past and present flood management with government officials, non government organizations and academics within Bangladesh.