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Accepted Paper:

Shale gas as an uncertain resource for the uncertain future: state, communities and industries at the new frontier of resource politics in Poland  
Aleksandra Lis (Adam Mickiewicz University) Agata Stasik (Koźmiński University )

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines shale gas exploration in Poland as a new frontier of resource politics whereby the weak Polish State limits the role of local communities to the ones who are in ‘deficit of knowledge’.

Paper long abstract:

This paper proposes to examine shale gas exploration in Poland as a new frontier of resource politics which brings together State, global and national industries, experts and communities into uneven, and often symbolically violent, interactions. Optimistic assessments of extractable shale gas resources in Poland calculated by the U.S. Energy Information Agency attracted oil&gas companies from all over the world to start operations on the ground. This paper examines first encounters between local communities and industries in three localities where national and global upstream companies became active. The analysis of the first local meetings reveals uneven relations of power between community members and industries which thrive on the 'ideology', perpetuated by experts, that the lack of acceptance of new technologies results from people's 'deficit of knowledge'. At the meetings, members of local communities used various tactics and strategies to undermine this ideology and subvert relations of power between them and industries; however, in longer term, outside of the meeting framework, they were limited in their moves by state regulations which narrow down the competence of local communities to the role of those who have the right to be informed. The paper concludes with reflections about the agency of local communities in resource politics in Poland and about the weakness of the Polish State in maneuvering between different types of deficits it faces when new resources are to be explored: energy supply deficit, democratic deficit, knowledge deficit, regulations deficit and a deficit of control mechanisms over activities of oil&gas companies.

Panel P073
Indelible footprints and unstable futures: anthropology and resource politics
  Session 1