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Displaced: The Human Cost of Development and Resettlement

Displaced: The Human Cost of Development and Resettlement - Bennett, McDowell | Palgrave

“Displacement is like a cancer. It completely twists and breaks the structure of society.”

– Devilal Hembron, displaced by coalmining in Jharkhand, India

Purchase 'Displaced: The Human Cost of Development and Resettlement' from PalgraveDisplacement is commonly associated with refugees fleeing conflict, but millions of people are resettled every year in the name of development and progress. Many of these individuals endure social and cultural disruption as well as economic upheaval, and a significant number never regain their former quality of life. Despite this, the voices of those with direct experience of displacement are rarely heard.

Panos London marks the International Day of Sharing Life Stories on May 16, by announcing the publication of ‘Displaced: The Human Cost of Development‘. A powerful book that seeks to address the absence of voice in the resettlement debate, it draws upon an extensive archive of vivid first-hand accounts by the displaced themselves, gathered by Panos London and partners in Africa and Asia.

The six case-studies that form the core of the book feature the voices of men and women displaced by the Tarbela Dam in Pakistan, pastoralists in Kenya displaced by agricultural and conservation initiatives, groups of San in Botswana and Namibia resettled as a result of government schemes and conservation policies, farming families in India who lost their land and livelihoods to coalmining, and mountain villagers in Lesotho, resettled by the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

By bringing together these individual experiences, the book reveals the loss of cultural continuity and identity, shifts in family responsibilities and gender roles, and fractured relationships between generations that are just some of the complex challenges people face as they attempt to rebuild lives and communities. Although these narratives are suffused with regret and a sense of loss, they also demonstrate resourcefulness and resilience in the face of profound change. Development’s social cost continues to be under-reported; these stories are a crucial reminder of its often devastating consequences.

For several decades policy makers, practitioners, and academics alike have called for a refocus on ‘people’ in development. This book does just that by giving voice to those affected by development-induced displacement.  I predict that this will become a major work in the field of development studies.

– Dawn Chatty, professor in Anthropology and Forced Migration, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

An exciting, outstanding and welcome addition to the literature on displacement…

– Pablo Bose, assistant professor, Department of Geography, University of Vermont

For policymakers in particular, this book should be compulsory reading.

– Hari Mohan Mathur, visiting professor, Council for Social Development, New Delhi

A really powerful and important piece of work bringing the human dimension to the injustice and ignorance of public policy.

– Ced Hesse, International Institute for the Environment and Development, London

This is a timely and eloquent wake-up call from the voices of the unseen and unheard casualties displaced by development.

– Robert Chambers, research associate, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex


To request a review copy please contact the Palgrave Macmillan publicity team:



  1. The book is published in the UK on 11 May 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan as part of Palgrave Studies in Oral History series. To buy a copy at discount, visit and enter the promotional code WPANOS2012a at the checkout.
  2. About the authors:
    • Olivia Bennett is a writer, editor and researcher in development information and publishing. She devised and ran the Oral Testimony Programme at Panos London for many years. Read a blog from Olivia about how this book grew from a Panos London project
    • Christopher McDowell is a Reader in Political Anthropology at City University, London. He specialises in population displacement, and has undertaken consultancy and advisory work on resettlement issues for UN agencies, governments, and NGOs.
  3. About Panos London:
    • Panos London has been pioneering the value of oral testimony in the development context since 1993. Read more on Panos London’s oral testimony work and other related activities.
    • All royalties from Displaced will go to Panos London to support these activities. For more information on Panos London’s oral testimony methodology please contact
    • Panos London promotes the participation of poor and marginalised people in international development debates through media and communication projects. It is part of the worldwide Panos Network of independent institutes working to ensure that information is used more effectively to foster debate,

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