The University of Arizona

The political ecology of uncertainty: the production of truth by juridical practices in hydropower development

Ayşen Eren


Abstract The sustainable hydropower development program, launched by the Turkish state in early 2000s, has not only privatized rivers, by transferring the use rights of the stream flow to private companies, but also the hydropower sector by transferring the functions of state institutions to the private sector, including planning, designing, constructing and operating hydroelectric plants. This overwhelming program has faced strong opposition and local people have opened court cases to cancel emerging private hydropower projects in their areas. This legal struggle has transformed juridical knowledge-making into a process that produces environmental knowledge, and legitimizes it as official knowledge. By tracing the trajectory of the court case over the Cevizlik hydroelectricity plant and analyzing the scientific expert reports and court verdicts, this article discusses juridical knowledge-making under the uncertainty of natural conditions while demonstrating its strengths and limitations. I argue that the plurality of the knowledge produced through juridical knowledge-making practice reveals its political character. I conclude that the debates over juridical knowledge-making practices from the political ecology perspective can contribute to improving them, and help understand the future of rivers in Turkey under the pressure of hydropower development. Key words: Political ecology, knowledge-making, juridical knowledge-making, uncertainty of knowledge, hydropower development, the İkizdere River, Turkey.

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