Hana Daňková | Uncertain landscape: Transforming post/socialist past of urban periphery in Northern Bohemia (Czech Republic)

Vortrag im Kolloquium für Technik- und Wissenschaftsforschung

Hana Daňková is a social anthropologist working as doctoral student at the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Department of Local and Regional Studies. She focuses on urban anthropology and anthropology of landscape. Her dissertation project which she conducts at the Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague inquires into industrial landscape and towns in Northwestern Bohemia (Czech Republic) and their history from the standpoint of political ecology.

The paper is a part of her dissertation project, which focuses apart of lake Milada on one another man-made lake on place of former brown-coal mine in Northwestern Bohemia.

This paper explores the case of ‘uncertain landscape’ embodied in post-mining lake (35 601 000 m³) on the place of former open-cast brown coal mine, situated on urban periphery of town Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic. Based on the outcomes of media analysis and etnographic interviews, the paper focuses on how the very existence and future usage of this post-mining lake and its waters is being negotiated by various actors, including local government, environmnetal NGOs and inhabitants of town Ústí nad Labem. Using the conceptual framing of landscape political ecology (Connolly 2017), the paper explores trasformation and contestation of this place. It shows how the post-socialist, mining past, is percieved as ‘disorder’ is to be effaced by bringing the landscape on the site of former mine back to the ‘state of natural order’, using water as medium of effacing. Nevertheless, the same  post-socialist past is present in complicated property rights of the place and political desicion about its future. Current administrator of the lake admits the possibility that whole place (whose very existence was paid from public funds) might be leased to private enterpreneurs. While the try to bring to place to ‘state of natural order’ can be marked as succesful in regard of physical shape and biological functions of the new lake, the current governance of the whole project is not able to stop producing uncertainty about future for the local actors. The debate lead by various actors on the issue of new lake reflects at the same time their relation to modes of governance of town Ústí nad Labem, stressing the slowly rising need of citizens to take part on decision processes in the town, and challenge the existing status-quo of local governance.

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