Reconfiguration of collectives and territorial project

The Sélune river after the dams… Construction of a new territorial project, the role and reconfiguration of local and external collectives, perspectives and comparison at the international scale.


Marie-Anne Germaine (University Paris Nanterre, UMR LAVUE)

Scientific context

In 2009, the government announced the removal of the Sélune dams, specifying that “this operation [should be] exemplary and constitute[s] a real opportunity to develop the valley“. While the demolition of the Vezins dam began in summer 2019, the territory of the Sélune valley is about to enter a transitional phase during which local actors will have to build a new project. The research project aims to monitor, during the period 2019-2021, the mobilization of stakeholders and the definition of the territorial project. The strength of this project lies in monitoring the construction of groups of actors (opponents and allies of the dam removal operation) at different scales and placing the case of the Sélune river restoration into perspective with other projects, particularly in North America.


Following the completion of an initial project reflecting the controversy linked to the Sélune dam removal project, this project aims at monitoring the reconfiguration of the collectives of actors when the valley enters a phase of transition leading to an “exemplary” project.

  1. We will first analyse, at the local scale, the process of construction of a new territorial project by following the transformation of the existing collectives already surveyed before dam removal started, but also the emergence of new collectives or the possible local mobilization of groups geographically close (Mont Saint-Michel bay) or external that were in favour of the dam removal project (NGOs for example). We propose in particular to investigate the role of the existing collectives in the downstream part of the valley, the emblematic bay of Mont Saint-Michel, so far not investigated but where several actors could get involved in this operation.
  2. The role of this unprecedented operation will also be analysed nationally and internationally. It is a question of both seeing how networks acting on larger scales intervene in the definition of a local project and conversely how the example of the Selune fuels the national debate on the ecological restoration of rivers.
  3. Finally, we propose to put the case of the Sélune river into perspective by comparing with the removal and redevelopment of dams of comparable dimensions in France (Poutès) and in the United States (Kennebec, Pennobscot, etc.), where the removal policy of dams is the most active. It is a matter of shedding light on the exterior using actual examples of the reconfiguration of the actors’ games, the landscapes of the restored river and their appropriation (or not) by the local populations after dam removal. This comparative study can nourish reflection on the territorial project under development.


This work will be based on investigations (interviews, focus groups), a participative observation approach as well as an analysis of communication documents on different media (movies, press, social network, etc.).

Laboratories involved

Laboratoire LAVUE UMR 7218 CNRS (Université Paris Nanterre)

Laboratoire de Géographie Physique UMR 8591 CNRS (Université Paris Est Créteil)

Laboratoire EVS 5600 CNRS (ENS Lyon)

Nelson Institute (Madison-Wisconsin University)