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.

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11 Sep

“The Politics of Military Force” reviewed in Perspectives on Politics

“The Politics of Military Force” has been reviewed as part of a Critical Dialogue with Professor Wolfgang Wagner (VU Amsterdam), in which we discuss our respective books. Here’s (the positive part of) what he had to say:

“Stengel argues convincingly that the changes in German security discourse and practice are not inevitable adjustments to any functional requirements of a changing security environment. … Stengel’s book contributes to a growing body of literature that—correctly in my view—treats security policy change not as inevitable adjustments to a country’s changing environment, but as the result of political decisions that reflect value commitments, worldviews, and the expectations of the domestic public as well as allied states. Stengel’s contribution is theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich.

Wolfgang Wagner

Doi: 10.1017/S1537592721001808

14 Jan

Edited volume on “Populism and World Politics” published

I am happy to say that my co-edited volume (with Dirk Nabers and David B. MacDonald) on “Populism and World Politics: Exploring Inter- and Transnational Dimensions” has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan.

This volume is the first to analyze populism’s international dimension: its impact on, and interaction with, foreign policy and international politics. The contributions to this volume engage conceptual theoretical issues and overarching questions such as the still under-specified concept of populism or the importance of leadership and the mass media for populism’s global rise. They zoom in on populism’s effect on both different countries’ foreign policies and core international concerns, including the future of the liberal world order and the chances for international conflict and cooperation more generally.

The volume includes chapters by:

  • Jan Zeemann on the possibility of an emancipatory global populist project
  • María Esperanza Casullo on the importance of leadership for populist movements
  • Precious Chatterje-Doody and Rhys Crilley on global media and populism
  • Dirk Nabers and myself on sedimented practices in Donald J. Trump’s election campaign
  • Brian Budd on Kellie Leitch’s failed campaign in Canada
  • Grant Burrier on the impact of populist presidencies on trade and defense policies in Latin America
  • Daniel Wajner on the impact of classical populism, neoliberal and progressive neopopulism on Latin American foreign policies
  • David B. MacDonald on the foreign policy of Winston Peters’s New Zealand First party
  • Thorsten Wojczewski on Modi’s populist project in India
  • Robert Patman on populist challenges to liberal world order
  • Shane Markowitz on populism as a socio-material phenomenon in the context of genetically modified organisms
  • and Amy Skonieczny on the 2016 US presidential election’s effect on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The book is available online here: https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9783030046200 or here: https://rd.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-04621-7

If you do not have access, please feel free to send me an e-mail.

29 Sep

Chapter on “Non-state Actors and Foreign Policy” now online

My co-authored chapter on non-state actors and foreign policy (with Rainer Baumann) has finally been published online. The official version is available here, for a pre-print see my Publications page.

Here’s the summary:

The rise of non-state (international, private, and transnational) actors in global politics has far-reaching consequences for foreign policy theory and practice. In order to remain able to explain foreign policy also in the 21st century, foreign policy research needs to take into account the growing importance of nonstate actors. A good way to do this would be to engage the literature on globalization and global governance. Both fields would benefit from such an exchange of ideas because their respective strengths could cancel out each other’s weaknesses. Foreign policy research on one hand has a strong track record explaining foreign policy outcomes, using a broad range of theoretical concepts but almost completely ignores non-state actors. This is highly problematic for at least two reasons: Firstly, foreign policy is increasingly made in international organizations and intergovernmental and transnational governance networks instead of national institutions like foreign ministries. Secondly, also the latter increasingly open up to, and involve, non-state actors in their policymaking procedures. Thus, if foreign policy research wants to avoid becoming marginalized in the future, it needs to take into account this change. However, especially systemic approaches like neorealism or constructivism have difficulties adapting to the new reality of foreign policy. Not only do they explicitly stress the importance of states at the expense of non-state actors, which are only of marginal interest to them, as is global governance. Moreover, they also conceptualize states unitary actors which forecloses the possibility of examining the involvement of non-state actors in states’ decision-making processes. Agency-based approaches such as Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) fare much better, at least in principle. FPA scholars stress the improtance of disaggregating the state and looking at the individuals and group dynamics that influence their decision making. However, while this commitment to opening up the state allows fro a great deal more flexibility vis-à-vis different types of actors, FPA research has so far remained state-centric and only very recently turned to non-state actors. On the other hand, non-state actors’ involvement in policymaking is the strongsuit of the literature on globalization and global governance, which has spent a lot time and effort analyzing various forms of “hybrid” governance. At the same time, however, this literature has been rather descriptive, so far mainly systematizing different governance arrangements and the conditions under which non-state actors are included in governance arrangements. This literature could profit from foreign policy research’s rich theoretical knowledge in explaining policy outcomes in hybrid governance networks and IOs.
Foreign policy researchers should take non-state actors seriously. In this regard three avenues in particular are relevant for future research: (1) comparative empirical research to establish the extent of non-state actors’ participation in foreign policymaking across different countried and governance arrangements (2) explanatory studies that analyze the conditions under which non-state actors are involved in states’ foreign policymaking processes and (3) the normative implications of increased hybrid foreign policymaking for democratic legitimacy.