Democracy by Energy Transition: The Politics of Administrative Legal Contact Zones in Poland
Dr. Tiffany Grobelski
Recent Graduate of UW Geography
Abstract: Governmental accountability to the public is as weighty and urgent a topic as ever. In this talk, I make two main arguments. First, I make the case that administrative law is an important site of inquiry for social scientists, including geographers interested in theorizing about state power and socio-legal scholars interested in law’s role in transformative political change. Interaction with administrative legal processes exposes citizens to state power structures, prevailing governance logics, and the ways these might be reconfigured. Using administrative legal tools and discourses, within formal institutional channels and beyond, is a way through which practitioners may enact a re-framing of the very exercise of political liberal rights. Second, I argue that struggles over energy policy are key sites where relationships between state and society are being reworked, and a governance accountability movement is being built, as citizens demand resolution of scalar dissonance between governmental practices at various levels. To substantiate my arguments, I present my analysis of environmental-administrative legal mobilization in Poland, based on data collected from qualitative interviews with practitioners, participant observation of environmental-legal struggles, and legal databases. I detail how members of two Polish grassroots movements—those who mobilized against air pollution in Kraków, and those who mobilized against shale gas exploration in Żurawlów—moved from local protest to proactive energy policy formation at the national level.
Colloquium in Smith 304 at 3:30 with reception to follow in Smith 411.