Most contemporary literature on large dams is critical of their performance particularly regarding their negative impacts on society and the ecosystem. This has led to suggestions of more benign alternatives with fewer negative social and environmental stresses. Consequently, large dams are caught in an ideological contest of why, what and how development should be pursued. This thesis analyse development theory in the context of the links between dam-building, sustainable development and neo-liberalism/modernisation in Africa’s socio- economic development trajectory. Using an interdisciplinary approach and multiple methods, this thesis examines and analyses the perceptions and experiences of communities affected and others yet to be affected by dam projects in Ghana, and national, local and international actors and their organisations. Contextualised within contemporary African development, the thesis argues that large dams construction is temporally and spatially mediated by geophysical conditions and prevailing international, national and local socio- economic and political circumstances.