Invitation to POLITICAL COMMUNITY WORKSHOP and PhD SUMMER SCHOOL 2014

Invitation to workshop

Political Community:

Authority in the Name of Community

hosted by the

Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL)

at the

University of Aberdeen

Tuesday 24-Wednesday 25 June 2014

Academic coordinator: Trevor Stack (t.stack@abdn.ac.uk)

Attendance is free but please register with Claire Wojciechowski (claire.wojciechowski@abdn.ac.uk)

Speakers include Margaret Somers, Stephen Tierney, Ajay Gudavarthy, Gurpreet Mahajan, Dejan Stjepanovic, Jan Kotowski, Andreea Udrea, Katinka Weber, Rivke Jaffe, Martijn Koster, Marc Kruman, Balazs Majtenyi, David Thunder and Camille Walsh. See below for their abstracts.

Following our successful Political Community workshop in June 2013 (summaries) CISRUL invites you to attend a workshop that will allow us to develop our understanding of political community, prior to publishing a volume.

We confirmed in the June 2013 workshop that the term “political community” was appropriate for identifying a core set of issues that interest us at CISRUL, even though it was evident that no term will ever carry all the right connotations and none of the wrong ones.

Though we each have our own preferred approach, reflecting the wide range of perspectives in CISRUL, several of us are using the term “political community” for one whose members feel somehow represented within its structures of authority, and thus somehow obliged to their fellow-members to follow its norms and accept its decisions. A political community could also be termed a democracy but we prefer to use the term “democracy” for a form of government; our focus is more on the link between authority and community than on the precise structure of government. In a political community, authority is exercised in the name of some kind of community of members – this is the point on which for the most part we converge.

That said, we understand both “authority” and “community” in a variety of ways. We are interested in:

  • established political institutions but also less formal and/or emergent structures of authority
  • nations as the (arguably) paramount political communities of the contemporary world but also other forms of political community: pre-modern cities are obvious examples, but we are open to the possibility that there are political communities other than nations in the present day, even if these may be linked to or embedded within nations.

We prefer, on the whole, to reserve the term “political community” for those that claim a degree of self-sufficiency (or self-determination) and we distinguish political communities from political collectives such as trade unions or churches which see themselves as players in a broader arena. However, we are still very much interested in how authority is exercised internally in the name of members of such entities, as well as in how they position themselves in relation to the political communities that host them. We acknowledge, too, that political communities such as nations also see themselves as players in a broader, international arena.

We will discuss a full range of topics at the workshop, but have a particular interest in:

  • how political communities compare to communities that we might consider less or non-political, such as kin groups or cultural associations:
    • is it the case, for example, that what we are calling “political community” is a community only because it has a political authority which rules in the name of the members?
    • is it really possible to form a “political community” of people with no common worldview and who disagree about issues and priorities or simply don’t like each other?
  • how one might differentiate between forms of political community, including that of nations:
    • how the largely involuntary nature of membership in nations conditions the structures of authority that we know as states (for example, where it leaves those who are citizens but do not identify with the nation), and how this compares to other forms of political community in which membership may be more voluntary
    • whether and how one can differentiate between stronger and weaker forms of political community:
      • nationalism generally entails strong community bonds which support the strong claim to authority known as national sovereignty – do weaker community bonds make for weaker claims to authority, and if so, to what effect?
      • by what criteria might one consider some communities more political than others, and how might one account for the difference?
  • the role of international law in the contemporary world in shaping political community, primarily by recognizing the self-determination of “peoples”
    • for example, how successful have indigenous peoples been in challenging the virtual monopoly of nations on self-determination?
  • the relation between electoral democracy as a form of government and political community as authority in the name of community
    • for example, how has the recent “transition to democracy” in many countries affected the shape of political community?
  • how political community relates to 3 other key concepts that CISRUL has examined since 2009:
    • citizenship: understood both as formal membership with rights and obligations and as a broader set of commitments to others within and beyond the political community
    • civil society (topic of our 2012 workshop): a concept whose analytical value is debatable but which remains an important source of political legitimacy in the world today
    • rule of law: if political community is about authority exercised in the name of community, how does it relate to the idea of authority being subject to law?
  • in relation to CISRUL’s ongoing research projects:
    • what is the role of education (historically and in the present) in shaping senses of political community in young people (see below our Sense of Political Community project)?
    • what are the dynamics of political community when valuable resources (such as oil and gas) are at stake (see below our Energy Politics Forum project)?
  • the significance for political community of minority nationalism, multiculturalism, indigenous rights movements, urban citizenship, cosmopolitanism, global civil society, etc.
  • the extent to which recent socio-political movements such as Occupy or the Indignados are proposing alternative forms of political community, as well as whether the European Union (and other such arrangements) represents a new departure in political community.

As in all CISRUL activities, our approach is fully inter-disciplinary and our interests include but go beyond contemporary Europe and North America. Our speakers will present on Scotland, Netherlands, Hungary and SE Europe, USA, Bolivia, Jamaica and India, as well as on political community in philosophy, post-colonial studies, and constitutional and international law.

We welcome your comments on the topic – the best way is to contribute to our Political Community email discussion list.

Location and travel

The workshop will be held at the beautiful Old Aberdeen campus of the University of Aberdeen on Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th June.

Aberdeen is unusually well-served for travel because it is a global hub of the oil industry. There are regular direct flights to Aberdeen from most UK cities (British Airways, BMI, Easy Jet, Eastern Airways) and from Paris and Amsterdam (Air France/KLM). There is also a very frequent train and bus service from England.

Abstracts

From Recognition to Non-Resident Citizenship: Hungary’s Kin-state Policies and Their Conceptions of Equality

Andreea Udrea, Royal Holloway, University of London

Even though the Act LXII of 2001 on Hungarians Living in Neighbouring Countries became a legal standard in Europe following the evaluation of the legitimacy of a kin-state’s involvement carried out by the Council of Europe’s Commission for Democracy through Law, the multiplication and diversification of European kin-state policies in the last decade has heightened the debate over the normative foundations of a kin-state’s intervention as responsibility for justice. The Hungarian legislation of 2001 sets a kin-state’s duties to be the responsibility to protect the cultural identity of its kin-minorities in the neighbouring states and to support their cultural flourishing. However, by facilitating the access of the members of its kin-minorities to non-resident Hungarian citizenship, the Act XLIV on Hungarian Nationality from 2010 extends Hungary’s kin-state responsibility from a duty of recognition to a constitutional commitment to equal citizenship. Focusing on the case of Hungary’s kin-state policies, this paper discusses the articulation of its trans-domestic duties of recognition and equality, and examines the relationship between a kin-state’s duty of identity recognition and that of equality. Contrary to dominant views in liberalism, I show that in the case of the Hungarian legislation on kin-minorities, identity recognition is not instrumental to achieving equality between resident and non-resident citizens. I argue that their lack of convergence weakens the inclusive and democratic value of citizenship putting a kin-state’s policies at odds with liberalism.

Authority in the Name of Nation

Balazs Majtenyi, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

The presentation examines the theoretical issues regarding the use of the term nation in constitutions and analyses the relationship between the identity of the state and the protection of human rights. The impact of international and transnational human rights documents have remained limited in the area of the identity of a political community so far. Yet, the constitutional understanding of the nation directly effects the interpretation of fundamental rights and other constitutional principles. The presentation examines the different ways of institutionalizing the concept of nation in constitutions, then it discusses what consequences may result if the principles of constitutionalism and national identity of the state are in conflict. The predominant use of an ethnic concept of the nation may cause legitimate concerns for domestic human rights protection. This hypothesis can be examined through the example of how the concept of the nation has changed in Central and Eastern European constitutions. The presentation compares the Constitution of 1989 of Hungary with the recent Hungarian Fundamental Law (2011), and it discusses the consequences of the different terminology on human rights protection. Similarly to most European democratic constitutions, the 1989 Constitution used primarily a civic concept ofnation, while theFundamental Law introduces an ethnic concept. The official definition of the ethnic majority can reveal a lot about a society, including the status of minority groups, but also about the state of constitutionalism. An analysis of the Hungarian Fundamental Law, which uses the concept of an ethnic nation in an unconventional way, can help to interpret the processes that lead to crises of new democracies. The presentation tackles the question how the primary use of the ethnic concept of the nation can be reconciled with the moral equality of citizens and how it is possible to interpret human rights institutions if the state identifies itself with the ethnic nation.

Statehood alternatives: A comparative perspective on territorial politics in Europe

Dejan Stjepanović, University of Edinburgh and CISRUL Visiting Fellow

Politics of historic regions in Western Europe have received significant scholarly attention. Much less has been said about their counterparts in other parts of the continent. There is a renewed tendency among certain sub-state regional political actors in Western Europe to focus on state building while their counterparts in Southeastern Europe are excluding the independent statehood option. I will examine the commonly asserted claim that most territorial political projects will ultimately lead to demands for the establishment of an independent state, even if they are de-ethnicising (moving from ethnic towards civic claims) and stressing territorial criteria for membership. This is an innovative research as it compares territorial politics in sub-state historic territories from Southeastern and Western Europe. It offers an original contribution to the existing literature by rebutting teleological understandings of territorial political processes, the assumption that there is a finality of territorial politics – the establishment of a sovereign nation state.

According to Milward (2000), European integration strengthened the role of nation states in Europe. However, European integration provides a number of ways in which the nationalities question can be accommodated. It provides mainly symbolic but also some practical opportunities that challenge the doctrine of unitary state sovereignty. EU integration provides a number of opportunities for stateless nations (and regions) to project themselves beyond state borders (Keating 2001) allowing them to by-pass the state as the only relevant locus of politics. Within this transformed sovereignty and the setting of multi-level politics, nationality claims in the sub-state arena may be treated as a form of politics that can be accommodated within the existing boundaries, rather than as claims that necessarily lead to separation.

Claims for self-determination and various forms of (limited) independence in the sub-state historic territories such as Catalonia, Flanders and Scotland have entered a new phase not witnessed in the last decades. Often out of the spotlight are cases of historic territories which just like their Western European counterparts are de-ethnicising and re-territorialising membership, but unlike them are explicitly refuting any claims to independence. They are also frequently using the imagery of the European Union as a legimitising factor. In the last two decades, the prominent examples are the sub-state regional polities of Istria in Croatia and Vojvodina in Serbia. These are the cases of what I call in my doctoral thesis and elsewhere (Stjepanović 2012) ‘plurinational’ and ‘multinational’ regionalisms rather than sub-state or stateless nationalisms. I will thus ask why political projects in Europe that are de-ethnicising their membership are manifested primarily as nationalisms that sometimes promote ‘total exit options’ (Bartolini 2005) in Western Europe and regionalisms that nearly always exclude independent statehood in Southeastern Europe, despite many underlying similarities.

Race, Property and Gender in the Early U.S. Republic: Reconfiguring the American Political Community

Marc Kruman, Center for the Study of Citizenship, Wayne State University

Historians of the emerging political community in post-Revolutionary America traditionally have depicted a linear progression from a political community composed of white propertied men to all white men. This account is partially accurate of course. Property as a marker distinguishing white men did erode in the half century after independence. But the story was far more complicated. In my presentation, if it is accepted, I will examine how and why property as a qualifier for membership in the political community began to disappear much sooner than suggested by scholars and how and why a racist democracy emerged later than is usually posited. I will examine the ways in which changing understandings of representation—in particular the idea that broad political participation was essential to protect the citizenry from a potentially dangerous government–    helped to reconfigure the American political community from a hierarchy of property to a hierarchy of race and gender.

I will conclude with a discussion of how Alexis de Tocqueville sought to solve the problems caused by a broad (if still delimited) democracy. If civic virtue rested in the propertied at the onset of the Revolution, by the mid-nineteenth century all white males were deemed worthy participants in public life. How could political community be secured in the face the centrifugal forces unleashed by a broad democracy?

What Do Citizens Owe Their Communities? A Critique of Duty-Based Approaches to Justice and Responsibility

David Thunder, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra

One of the hallmarks of modern theories of justice, from Hobbes and Locke to Rawls and Habermas, is that they tend to conceptualize a just social order less as the intentional, ongoing, and precarious achievement of just and virtuous individuals, and more as the outcome of a set of institutional and moral constraints upon people’s behavior and projects. Social order, on this view, is at bottom an elaborate game, and the task of the theorist is to determine which ground rules—whether moral or legal—can ensure (to the extent practicable) that economic and social interactions and outcomes are fair to all parties involved. This duty-based approach undoubtedly captures important truths about the practice of justice, in particular the coordinating role of institutions and the need for clarity about citizens’ public obligations. Nonetheless, as I shall argue in this paper, duty-based approaches tend to offer an excessively minimalist picture of a citizen’s responsibilities toward his or her community. This minimalist picture is greatly facilitated by the fact that proponents of the duty-based approach conceptualize the problem of justice as one of limiting individual freedom rather than unleashing its full potential. Once the problem of justice is set up in this way, an important fact about the practice of justice is effectively lost from view, namely that the creative and prudential exercise of freedom plays a vital role in the promotion and maintenance of justice, no less than the constraint of freedom by moral and institutional rules. In the first part of the paper, I make a case for the centrality of free personal initiatives to the practice of justice. In the second part, I argue that this observation compels us to reframe justice as a common project imposing open-ended responsibilities upon stakeholders, rather than merely a system of duties narrowly construed. The upshot of my argument is that once we see the vital role of free personal initiatives in discharging the collective burdens of justice in community, we are compelled to accept a broader and more demanding conception of the responsibilities of citizens than what what we typically find in standard liberal accounts.

Duty and Community: Drawing the Lines of Exclusion in the 20th Century U.S.

Camille Walsh, University of Washington at Bothell

How do the obligations of citizenship generate and limit our imagination of political community?  Drawing on the work of Turner, Kerber, Fineman and other scholars of citizenship and vulnerability, this paper traces the historical links between differences in the duties that particular groups have been permitted to engage in within the U.S. (gendered military service, racialized taxation, etc.) and the entitlements that those groups are then able to claim from the state – and perhaps from each other.  This paper will also take up the recent discussion of “polycentric constitutionalism” in U.S. legal scholarship to identify the different ways narratives and justifications of power are generated and framed through reference to robust participation in the duties of citizenship, and the different ways of imagining the multiplicity of communities and constitutive authorities through diffuse constitutional lenses.  Two core historical examples inform this study.  First, I look at the debate over the implementation of the G.I. Bill in the U.S. at the end of WWII, in which a limited and constricted, as well as gendered and raced, welfare state was permitted through claims to the special form of political community created by the uniqueness of military service (despite the technically higher civilian casualty rate in industrial work on the U.S. home front).  This provides a sharp contrast to the experience of many European nations after the war and the creation of broader welfare state protections and ultimately, inclusions.  Second, I examine the use of “taxpayer” rhetoric to systematically exclude people of color from the perceived political community in the 20th century U.S. and the way in which that rhetoric has grown around and intertwined with anti-immigrant fervor in recent decades.

A Territorialization of U.S. National Identity? The Politics and Discourses of the U.S.-Mexico Border

Jan Michael Kotowski, University of New Hampshire

The Obama administration has not only not reversed the decade-old militarization of the US-Mexico border, but instead heavily increased spending on so-called “border security” and immigration enforcement. This paper aims to describe and analyze the interplay between the seemingly never-ending policies of intensified immigration enforcement (even within frameworks of “comprehensive immigration reform”) and broader public discourses centered on the southern border. It shall be argued that the border with Mexico has become the chief manifestation of a territorialization of U.S. national identity, meaning that the rather abstract ideological aspects of the complex U.S. national identity formation have become concretized through a territorial dimension. Furthermore, within the self-proclaimed American “nation of immigrants,” the territorialization of the border is accompanied by racialized discourses of “Mexican otherness” that attempt to keep certain aliens excluded from the socio-political community of the United States. This “identity shift” can be seen not only in the political willingness to actually fortify the border, but also in various public discourses, ranging from talk-radio to TV series such as “Border Wars” and, of course, political rhetoric from various political alliances and lobby groups. The proposed paper will commence with a theoretical discussion of the relationship between borders, political community, and national identity and include an empirical part focused on current discourses of “border security.”

“Political Communities” without States? Exploring Processes of State Expansion in the Amazon

Katinka Weber, University of Liverpool

This paper suggests that we may shed further light on the notion of “political community” by considering it in the light of processes of state expansion. More specifically, this paper focuses on the experiences of Amazonian peoples who have escaped the influence of colonial or republican state-building projects, and who generally maintained less hierarchical forms of organisation. This is not to disregard that experiences of Amazonian peoples vary greatly, and many peoples had contact with traders, missionaries, or those seeking to extract natural resources, but nevertheless many Amazonian groups maintained more egalitarian authority structures and a ‘rhizomic model’ of self-other distinction which contrasts with the ‘Western’ ‘taproot model’ (hierarchical, or state-like) organisational forms (Rosengreen, 2003). However, the increased interaction with “state” actors (Abrams 1988; Fried 1967; Scott 1998) especially since mid-twentieth century has meant that many Amazonian peoples have adopted “taproot” organisational forms, reflected in the formation of their ethnic movements or governing bodies. Legal recognition of such organisations, as well as indigenous communities, has led to the formalisation of political authority and the expansion and multiplication of political communities. In this context, the emergence of political communities is closely linked to processes of state expansion or rather, the manipulation ofspatial and social boundaries at different, and nested, scales (Rubenstein 2001).  In this context, the paper debates whether “political communities” which are roughly defined as “one whose members feel somehow represented within its structures of authority” and within which “authority is exercised in the name of some kind of community of members” can only exist in relation to “states”.

New spaces of brokerage: active citizens and the informalization of political communities in the Netherlands

Martijn Koster, Utrecht University School of Governance

While the state continues its retreat from welfare provision, it deliberately leaves spaces in the political domain to citizens and their local communities. In the Netherlands, the current government has coined the notion of the “participatory society” [participatiesamenleving], for which it needs a high level of voluntary citizen participation so as to guarantee a certain quality of welfare provision. Especially in underprivileged neighbourhoods, where many residents rely upon public welfare, people are summoned to participate in both policy-making and execution in domains that range from social housing to care for the elderly and from social work to health care. The participatory society has provided spaces to new and existing political brokers: active citizens who fill the gap between the retreating state and their fellow citizens. These brokers are, in the Dutch context, referred to as ‘active citizens’ or ‘best persons’. In this paper, I like to explore how these brokers become part of new governmental assemblages, in which public institutions, corporate actors and volunteering citizens “co-function”. A central question is what kind of political communities these assemblages produce and what authority they (may) gain.

I will discuss how a particular community rationale gains more ground in policy-making and implementation when the state summons citizens to take a more active part in it. Political domains that used to be highly formalized, are now being infiltrated by a more informal community rationale. This community rationale centers upon local knowledge, personal connections and an exchange of favors. Political brokers co-direct decision-making regarding public services, while employing this community rationale. These brokers are in a privileged position. In specific, they may have the personal phone numbers of aldermen or housing corporation managers and, by contacting them, ‘bypass’ formal procedures while making the policy-making more “community-based”, more efficient and less costly. They are sought by organizational representatives (e.g. social workers, nurses, municipal officials, housing corporation employees) for information, advice and, where possible, for carrying out certain tasks.

In this paper, I will explore some answers to the next pressing questions: What will be the impact of new spaces of brokerage and informal community rationality on welfare provision? What political communities are formed in these new governmental assemblages and what authority will they have? What will be the impact of (new) informalized political communities on conceptualizations of citizenship?

Between Ballots and Bullets: Electoral Politics and Political Community in and beyond the State

Rivke Jaffe, University of Amsterdam

This paper approaches elections as a site for negotiations of political community both in and beyond the state. Beyond established political institutions such as political parties, other less formal structures of authority play an important role in mediating the relationship of citizens to the state. I focus on Jamaican “garrison politics”, a type of electoral turf politics that is achieved through communal clientelism and that has historically relied on brokers known as “dons”. These dons, area leaders who are often involved in criminal organizations, have longstanding connections to Jamaica’s two political parties. However, in recent decades they have become increasingly independent from politicians and have developed relationships with inner-city residents that are structured by notions of rights and responsibilities, and by forms of political participation. In the “garrison communities” where dons’ authority is strongest, voting behavior is affected by a mix of deeply felt party-political loyalty and the sometimes violent pressure exerted by dons and their organizations. Drawing on fieldwork in inner-city Kingston, I discuss how different forms of political community are enacted and performed through the act of voting and electoral politics more broadly. Rather than understanding inner-city residents as belonging to multiple, distinct political communities, I focus on the entanglement of allegiances to the don, the party and the nation-state. By focusing on the role of don-based structures of rule and belonging in mediating state-citizen relationships, I explore the entangled nature of contemporary political communities that function across different levels of scale (the nation-state, the neighborhood, and transnational criminal networks) and that draw on different registers of formality and legality.

Invoking Community and Imposing Authority

Ajay Gudavarthy, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Community is central to the way authority is imagined in India. There is a palpable tension between the way an idea of cultural/political community, around caste, religion, ethnicity and region is invoked, as against the understanding that in a democracy authority is truly `secular` when it moves beyond community and imagines the process as an interaction between individual-citizen and the political process or one that is trans-sectional, rather than an enclosed community. This tension will be mapped through a debate around:
(a) the (il)legitimacy of the practice of following what is referred to as `vote-bank` politics vis-a-vis religious minorities, especially the Muslims, as against the rational/informed choice made by the `general` electorate.
(b) Similarly,there is a tension between mobilizing identity and the need to move towards post-identity and post-ideology mobilization around development and governance.
(c)With regard to caste, there is a tension between caste-based parties, and caste-based policies such as the affirmative action policies (referred to as reservations in India) and the need to have an affirmative action policies on the basis of economic (class) criterion.
The paper will look at the either side of the divide, those for invoking the idea of entrenched community (essentially kinship-based)to mobilise the subaltern against the majoritarian and hegemonic power of the dominant groups on the state,as against those opposed to the idea as this kind of community-based mobilisation is leading to weaker citizenship-rights and entrenched psyche that is resulting, not in questioning the dominant authority but spurt in intra-subaltern conflicts.

Hosting of workshop

The workshop and PhD summer school are hosted by the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL), whose mission is to produce conversation across the social sciences and humanities on key concepts of the modern polity. Citizenship, civil society and rule of law are three such key concepts, all three of some pedigree but enjoying a new lease of life, prescribed by bodies such as IMF and United Nations, championed by social movements, and debated in the media and in academic research, although we are also interested in related notions such as democracy, human rights, multiculturalism and pluralism. We are distinguished by:

  • our conceptual approach, which contrasts with the often uncritical adoption of citizenship, civil society and rule of law as catch-all slogans or as fix-all solutions; instead we ask searching questions about the concepts themselves, less to define them more clearly than to consider how they get deployed in practice
  • our serious inter-disciplinary commitment, which goes beyond occasional encounters to aim at full engagement between up to 8 or 9 disciplines, in which we take time to learn the premises of each other’s disciplines in order to understand each other
  • our global and historical reach that includes but goes beyond the usual focus on contemporary Europe and North America, looking at medieval and early modern Europe but also a range of contexts across Latin America, Africa and Asia.

We also offer PhD studentships and would be grateful if you could draw them to the attention of promising, inter-disciplinary Masters students. Further information is available at www.abdn.ac.uk/cisrul 

Our interest in political community runs through two other CISRUL activities which are detailed on the website:

1. Sense of Political Community research project

CISRUL’s project on local schools began with our “Citizenship Education” forum in March 2013. Making “responsible citizens” is a core objective of the Curriculum for Excellence, which is being rolled out in schools across Scotland. Speakers at the forum noted, however, that the Curriculum for Excellence gives little emphasis to the political awareness of pupils, and also that teachers across Scotland are notoriously wary of “political” agendas in the classroom. The apolitical ethos of Scottish schooling may accentuate what education researchers have found across the world: pupils complain of feeling disenfranchised because they are unable to vote until they are 18. Yet in September 2014 16- and 17-year old pupils will vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum. We are looking at whether this will lead pupils to pay more attention to politics and, if so, how long it lasts and what the consequences are. They have begun with focus groups and interviews in a sample of local schools, starting with general questions such as “Beyond your family, who makes rules for you to follow, and do you think it is right that they make the rules?” and leading on to questions like “For those of you who will be eligible to vote in the Referendum, how confident do you feel about making the right decision?”

2. Energy Politics Forum

In May 2013 we held a major public conference on “Politics of Oil & Gas in a Changing UK” which focused on the politics of oil and gas but which has at its heart difficult questions about political community. To begin with, Scottish voters’ understanding of the political economy of oil and gas is likely to play a significant part in how they vote in the 2014 Independence Referendum. But Scottish independence – with its obvious ramifications for political community – is only one of many decisions to be made about the future of hydrocarbons, and whether Scotland is independent or not, they are decisions that need to be taken. Public debate of the many aspects of this looming future is scarce, almost as if the future was inevitable or we were unable to influence it. Many decisions are being left to lawyers, government, experts or the market. To build on the conference, we intend to launch an Energy Politics Forum which would host debates between a similarly broad range of academic and non-academic participants. As well as staging public debate, the objective is reflect further on the dynamics of political community when valuable resources are at stake.

Information about all our activities, including our PhD studentships, is available at www.abdn.ac.uk/cisrul


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