Barbara S. Isaacman

Barbara S. Isaacman, a retired criminal defense attorney, lived and taught law in Mozambique at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane as Professor of Law in the late 1970s. She wrote Women, the Law and Agrarian Reform in Mozambique, and co-wrote several monographs on the history of Mozambique.

Listed in: Environmental Policy · Social History · African History · Environmental History · African Studies




Winner of the 2014 Martin A. Klein Prize in African History (American Historical Association)

Winner of the African Studies Association’s 2014 Melville J. Herskovits Award.

Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development · Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965–2007
By Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman

This in-depth study of the Zambezi River Valley examines the dominant developmentalist narrative that has surrounded the Cahora Bassa Dam, chronicles the continual violence that has accompanied its existence, and gives voice to previously unheard narratives of forced labor, displacement, and historical and contemporary life in the dam’s shadow.

“At last a comprehensive, historically deep and ecologically knowledgeable study of a great dam. The Isaacmans brilliantly show how, all along the Zambezi below the Cahora Bassa Dam, whole worlds of riparian life—fish, birds, humans and other mammals—dependent on the annual inundation of the flood plain have been stilled. They recover the voices silenced by the fear and violence deployed by states devoted to the care and feeding of this mega-project. Unparalleled in its sweep, depth and attention to the lived experience of all its victims.”

James C. Scott, Yale University, author of Seeing Like a State