09 Sep

German Foundation for Peace Research Funds Project on “Gender in German Peace and Security Policy”

Beginning in September 2022, the German Foundation for Peace Research (DSF) will fund my project on “Gender in German Peace and Security Policy” for 2,5 years.

Gender constructions – understood as socially/discursively produced conceptions of masculinity and femininity – play an important role in foreign policy and international politics. Social constructions of subjects (e.g., political elites, soldiers, or the “local population” in conflict regions), objects (for instance, nuclear weapons), social practices (military interventions, economic sanctions, diplomacy), and institutions (like the foreign office or the armed forces) are gendered – they are interwoven with notions of masculinity and femininity. As a result, which options to address certain policy problems come to be regarded as more or less rational, appropriate, doable and morally acceptable depends not just on their objective problem adequateness but is also influenced by gendered behavioral expectations. This is especially the case in the “tough” world of security policy, in which the ideal-typical leader (the “statesman”) is marked by masculine characteristics like strength, toughness, and emotional sobriety. Likewise, public support for Western military interventions is at least in part the result of articulations of “women and children” allegedly in need of help. As the Afghan example shows, arguments like this do not necessarily have to correspond to any real lasting improvements in the security of vulnerable groups. While the influence of gendered constructions on foreign policymaking has been the subject of numerous studies, most case studies focus on the United States or the United Kingdom, and little if any attention is devoted to Germany. On the flipside, gender as an analytical category (let alone de- and postcolonial concepts such as coloniality or Orientalism) plays virtually no role in research on German security policy. And while liberal feminist conceptions of gender as primarily concerned with the role of women has become increasingly important as a factor in German foreign policy (no least under the leadership of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock), there is little to no reflection on how gender constructions (e.g., notions of masculinity) impact foreign policymaking, despite the fact that such constructions can be a hindrance for the development of problem-adequate policy solutions.

Given this, the project pursues two main aims: First, based on a discourse analysis of German parliamentary debates on military operations, the project seeks to examine to what extent and how gender(ed) constructions influence German peace and security policy. In doing so, the project closes an important research gap. Second, the project seeks to cooperate with political actors and think tankers to develop policy recommendations aiming at a reduction of potentially counterproductive gendered constructions’ (or those influenced by coloniality, Orientalism, Eurocentrism, etc.) impact on German foreign policymaking, for instance through the decolonization of knowledge and knowledge production or increasing the diversity of actors involved in foreign policymaking. Ideally, this will contribute to the formulation of a consistent feminist foreign policy as envisioned by Foreign Minister Baerbock.

Logo Deutsche Stiftung Friedensforschung
19 Aug

Article in Kiel University’s Research Magazine on Project KNOWPRO

The newest issue of “Unizeit,” Kiel University’s research magazine, features a detailed (German-language) article on our new project on “Knowledge Production in German Peace and Security Policy”, a collaboration with the University of Bremen and the University of Erfurt. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The article is available here: https://www.uni-kiel.de/de/unizeit/uz/news/projekt-knowpro

17 May

New Podcast on the “Zeitenwende”

Listen to the new Duck of Minerva “Duckcalls” podcast, in wich Dr. Georg Löfflmann (University of Warwick) and I talk Ukraine war, Zeitenwende in German security policy, German chancellor Olaf Scholz’s communication style and the moral rot among German intellectuals, among other things, with host Jarrod Hayes (UMass, Lowell).

https://duckofminerva.podbean.com/e/duck-events-podcast-zeitenwende-german-foreign-policy-after-ukraine/

15 Dec

BMBF Funds Project on “Knowledge Production in German Peace and Security Policy”

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has announced that it will fund the collaborative project “Knowledge Production in German Peace and Security Policy (KNOWPRO)” as part of its funding initiative to strengthen peace and conflict research, with ca. 1.5 million EUR.

Focussing on Afghanistan and Somalia as case studies, the project examines the knowledge that forms the basis for decisions (not) to intervene in armed conflicts. More specifically, the project is interested in what becomes accepted as objective knowledge about a given conflict in a certain context (e.g. a ministry or academic discipline) and how. Taking a sociological understanding of knowledge formation as its starting point, we expect that what counts as factual knowledge about a given issue will vary with context and depend not just on its objective truth but on different factors, including power, (lack of) expertise, bureaucratic politics, sedimented discursive practices, etc. To examine this proposition, the project compares knowledge production in three relevant areas: basic science, scientific policy advice, and government ministries and agencies. The project (a) explores to what extent knowledge differs between these three spheres, (b) develops a theoretical framework integrating discourse theoretical and sociological factors that explain which knowledge becomes accepted as the truth in a certain context, and (c) develops practical guidelines to improve knowledge transfer and decision making. The project combines quantitative corpus linguistic and interpretive methods of discourse analysis with qualitative interviews and ethnography in a mixed-methods design.

Co-PIs: Sophia Hoffmann, Dirk Nabers, Klaus Schlichte, Frank A. Stengel

Funding period: April 2022-March 2026

14 Dec

Article on the German Bundeswehr’s social media activities published in Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen

I am happy to announce that my article on the German Bundeswehr’s activities on social media (“Soziale Medien und die Legitimitätspolitik der Bundeswehr”) has been published in the Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen.

The article discusses the social media activities of the Bundeswehr, the German Armed Forces, which so far have received only limited attention in the academic literature. The Bundeswehr has an active presence on social media sites, such as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, and it uses it both to inform the public and for recruitment purposes. The article argues that scholars should pay more attention to social media as a significant site where struggles over how to interpret reality play out. To that end, it provides a brief summary of research on social media in Critical Military Studies. Following that, the article provides an overview of the Bundeswehr’s activities on social media and illustrates how the specific way the Bundeswehr presents itself on social media might contribute not just to its legitimacy as a governmental institution but also to the legitimacy of its activities, including military violence.

Keywords: social media, Bundeswehr, military, armed forces, militarization

doi: 10.5771/0946-7165-2021-2-152

A pre-print is available here.

08 Sep

“The Politics of Military Force” has been cited in Tagesspiegel

“The Politics of Military Force” has been cited in today’s print edition of Der Tagesspiegel, one of Germany’s big newspapers. The op-ed by Joseph Verbovszky argues that Germany’s role was “decisive” in the shift towards nation-building in Afghanistan, part of which was, paradoxically, war-aversion.

Here’s the link to the online article (that one links to my co-authored chapter with Martin Nonhoff instead of my book): 20 Jahre 9/11: Die Deutschen wollten keinen Krieg – und führten gerade deshalb einen (tagesspiegel.de)

10 Aug

Article “Militarizing antimilitarism?” published open access in IFJP

My co-authored (w/ David Shim, University of Groningen) article “Militarizing antimilitarism? Exploring the gendered representation of military service in German recruitment videos on social media” has been published online in the International Feminist Journal of Politics. The article analyzes the gendered representation of military service in the German YouTube series Die Rekruten (DR) (The Recruits), a popular web series produced on behalf of the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) for recruitment purposes, which accompanies 12 navy recruits during their basic training. The article is situated within research on masculinity and the military, in particular military recruitment. It supplements current scholarship by studying a previously neglected case that is of particular interest given Germany’s antimilitarist culture, which should make military recruitment and military public relations more difficult. The article asks how military service is represented in DR, what its discursive effects are, and what role (if any) masculinity plays in this process. We find support for recent feminist research on military masculinities (including in military recruitment) that emphasizes ambiguity and contradiction. What distinguishes the construction of military masculinity in DR from, for example, recruitment advertisements in the United States or the United Kingdom is its markedly civil character. This not only broadens the military’s appeal for a more diverse audience but also increases the legitimacy of the military and its activities. It does so by concealing the violence that has for the past two decades also been a very real part of what the Bundeswehr does.

DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2021.1935289 (open access)

04 Jun

Article ““Militarizing Antimilitarism” accepted for publication

My newest co-authored article (with David Shim, University of Groningen) “Militarizing Antimilitarism? Exploring the Gendered Representation of Military Service in German Recruitment Videos on Social Media” has been accepted for publication in the International Feminist Journal of Politics.

Abstract: This article analyzes the gendered representation of military service in the German YouTube series Die Rekruten (DR), a popular web series produced on behalf of the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) for recruitment  purposes, which accompanies 12 navy recruits during their basic training. The article is situated within research on masculinity and the military, in particular military recruitment. It supplements current scholarship by studying a previously neglected case that is of particular interest given Germany’s antimilitarist culture, which should make military recruitment and military public relations more difficult. The article asks how military service is represented in DR, what its discursive effects are, and what role (if any) masculinity plays in this process. We find support for recent feminist research on military masculinities (including in military recruitment) that emphasizes ambiguity and contradiction. What distinguishes the construction of military masculinity in DR from, for example, recruitment advertisements in the United States or the United Kingdom is its markedly civil character. This not only broadens the military’s appeal for a more diverse audience but also increases the legitimacy of the military and its activities. It does so by concealing the violence that has for the past two decades also been a very real part of what the Bundeswehr does.

Kewyords: gender, social media, German foreign policy, YouTube, military recruitment, militarization, military masculinity, hegemonic masculinity, antimilitarism Bundeswehr

The article will be published open access and will be available soon here: 10.1080/14616742.2021.1935289