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Projets - dr. FM (Michiel) Köhne

An important theme in my work is the production and reproduction of power inequalities with a focus on the relationship between on the one hand the relative anonymous actors of a globalising market relations and its related scramble for resources and on the other hand concrete communities that negotiate their relatively local autonomous lifestyles, interests and dwellings. In both the Noordoostpolder and Australia I analyse how inhabitants react to announcements of gas extraction in their area, on how they perceive their expected wins and losses and how they relate this to larger discourse and engage in alliances to organize their resistance, all within a normative context which includes imaginations of state and law. In Indonesia my research focuses on how villagers use different kinds of law, among which RSPO, and fight over the legitimacy of different kinds of land use and village heads in order to safeguard their access to land vis-à-vis oil palm plantation companies. In Bolivia I have analysed how an indigenous community used a combination of state law and authorities and indigenous law and authorities to strive for autonomy against logging companies.


A relatively new theme in my work is renewable energy. Also on this topic I work both in The Netherlands and in Australia. One of the big questions here is why almost everybody is concerned about climate change and has hopes for renewable energy developments to solve this. Still, especially large-scale renewable energy developments often face a lot of opposition. Within these themes I focus on the role of normativities and activism.


Another research focus is the role of law in the production and reproduction of power inequalities. I look at how people use and produce law, among other sources of power to negotiate these power inequalities. This includes an analysis of how uses of law are related to uses of other resources like knowledge, discourses, economic power and alliances. Use of law is about the use and reproduction of both state law and non-state law. Central in my understanding is the construction and reconstruction of authorities that may produce or enforce law. Among these authorities the state is an important one, but also non-state authorities are important. These are authorities are not something apart from society, but are part of social processes in which authorities are produced and reproduced through processes of legitimation. This implies an understanding of state and other authorities as another means to pursue private interests.