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

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

14 Nov

“The political production of ethical war” published in Critical Studies on Security

My newest article “The political production of ethical war: rethinking the ethics/politics nexus with Laclau” has been published in Critical Studies on Security as part of a special issue of Maja Zehfuss’s War and the Politics of Ethics.

Abstract: Taking Maja Zehfuss’s War & the Politics of Ethics as a starting point, this paper thinks through the ethics/politics nexus from the perspective of ‘Essex School’ poststructuralist discourse theory. Specifically, it asks how ethics – or, rather, morality, the temporary, contingent and context-dependent normative framework that regulates what is commonly seen as good or bad within a given society – is produced. From a discourse theoretical perspective, notions of the moral good are the result of political struggles over meaning. Here Laclau and Mouffe’s conception of hegemony can provide significant insight into how this process works, that is, how some claims about what is morally right become widely accepted as the (only) right thing to do while others fail to do so. The paper illustrates the theoretical argument with a brief case study of the changing articulation of the threat and use of military force in the German security discourse after unification. This case is of particular interest because Germany’s allegedly deeply engrained antimilitarist culture should, from a conventional constructivist perspective at least, stand in the way of any arguments about ethical war ever becoming accepted. Nevertheless, this is precisely what happened.

Keywords: ethics, morality, war, politics, the political, discourse, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Critical Security Studies, German foreign policy, out-of-area debate

The article is available here: https://doi.org/10.1080/21624887.2019.1690861

Free author copies are available here: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/DEJB4IYRYYKZRUSJNIGN/full?target=10.1080/21624887.2019.1690861

A pre-print is available here.

29 Sep

Special Issue on “Visualizing violence: aesthetics and ethics in international politics” online

Happy to say that the special issue of Global Discourse “Visualizing Violence aesthetics and ethics in international politics” with my coauthored article (with David Shim) on gender, war and social media is online. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/2wVq7g7

The Special Issue is an output of the DFG-funded network “Visuality and Global Politics”.

Aside from ourselves, the issue features contributions by Brent Steele, Jessica Auchter, Axel Heck, Frank Möller, Anna Geis & Gabi Schlag and Juha Vuori, as well asreplies by Rune Saugmann, Charlotte Heath-Kelly, Alexander Spencer, Debbie Lisle, Michelle Bentley, Kyle Grayson and Laura Shepherd. Great lineup!