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).
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
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
A pre-print is available here.
“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
“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)
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)