A word with Adam Czarnota

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From his first publications with fellow student activists at Nicholas Copernicus University in Poland, to his recent three year sojourn as Scientific Director of the International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Oñati, Spain, Adam Czarnota has blended a variety of lived experience in turbulent times with scholarly endeavours in socio-legal studies.

Talking recently about his interest in what is happening on the ground in many of the ‘new populist’ regimes, Adam said: ‘My knowledge of social, political and legal transformation, especially of post-dictatorial (so-called ‘transitional’) regimes, gives me a theoretical context in which to view these developments; my life experiences and extensive empirical scholarly work also provide awareness of, and a backdrop for, understanding what may yet prove to be ‘constitutional populism’.’

As one of the Chief Investigators for the project, he urged caution: ‘From my particular frame of reference, I do not entirely condemn populist movements because I see transformative potential in them, but at the same time my empirically based pragmatism suggests to me that a keen eye should be given to what they do as well as what they say – lest the reality be “anti-constitutional populism” in fact.’

Preparing to grapple with the project’s subject matter, Adam pointed to the importance of broader socio-legal analytical skills in this type of  phenomenological study. He said ‘I am particularly looking to get a balanced perspective on these developments by casting them in both their positive and negative dimensions, while my detailed knowledge of central European societies and their history will particularly inform case studies on Romania and Slovakia.’

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