More Projects

The Politics of Intimacy: Re-thinking the End-of-life Controversy, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press 2018

Debates on the end-of-life controversy are complex because they seem to highjack national and cultural traditions. Where previous books have focused on ideological grounds, The Politics of Intimacy explores dying as the site where policies are negotiated and implemented. Intimacy comprises the emotional experience of the end of life and how we acknowledge it—or not—through institutions. This process shows that end-of-life controversy relies on the conflict between the individual and these institutions, a relationship that is the cornerstone of Western liberal democracies.

Through interviews with mourners, stakeholders, and medical professionals, examination of media debates in France and the Czech Republic, Durnová shows that liberal institutions, in their attempts to accommodate the emotional experience at the end of life, ultimately fail. She describes this deadlock as the “politics of intimacy,” revealing that political institutions deploy power through collective acknowledgment of individual emotions but fail to maintain this recognition because of this same experience.

The Role of Intimacy in the Czech Controversy over Homebirth

Project at the Faculty of Social Science, Charles University Prague &  Institute of Sociology at the Czech Academy of Sciences
(Project funded by GAČR 2018 – 2020)

This project is the first one in the Czech Republic to bring an up-to-date and robust evidence on the key controversial issue of home birth. Attempts to ban home birth have recently multiplied and characterize this choice as a threat to the infant’s safety, and as evidence of mothers´ irresponsibility. These attempts are countered by groups that defend the mother’s right to choose home birthing. The controversy exposes the discussion about who are the relevant experts, and what knowledge is legitimate to use, in the policy debate. Patients have only recently been perceived as experts in health, with the result that their experiences become part of policy debates. By embedding the case in the European context and using recent critical policy studies scholarship the project conceptualizes intimacy as the individual emotional experience related to birth informing the argument for and against home birth. It looks on ways intimacy is legitimized in the debate thereby working toward a political notion of intimacy as a key instrument of citizen empowerment and related policy processes.

Mediating between “Fat Cats” and “Stupid Activists”: The Planning Controversy over Re-building Brno Railway Station
Project funded by the Laboratoire d’Economie et de Transport, Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’Etat , University of Lyon 2009–2010.

Since many years Brno citizens and expert argue about whether to re-build the Brno railway station in its current location or to move it 800 meters down the south. This controversy is a timely example of the role of emotions in understanding planning controversies. The project builds on studies in planning that have dismantled the importance of discourses for enrolling particular policies and shows that we need to pay more attention to emotions that are part of those discourses. Emotions are understood as discursive experiences of values and assumptions that consolidate respective groups of actors.