1) Knowledge Production in German Peace and Security Policy

The project explores knowledge production in German peace and security policy, specifically with respect to interventions. 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, focussing on 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 (University of Erfurt), Dirk Nabers (Kiel University), Klaus Schlichte (University of Bremen), Frank A. Stengel (Kiel University)

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Funding period: April 2022-March 2026

Project Publications:

2) Gender in German Peace and Security Policy

The project examines the role of gender constructions – understood as socially/discursively produced conceptions of masculinity and femininity – on German peace and security policy from an intersectional perspective. Gender constructions (and intersecting constructions like race, coloniality and Orientalism) play an important role in foreign policy and international politics by influencing which options to address certain policy problems come to be regarded as more or less rational, appropriate, doable and morally acceptable. 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. While numerous studies have explored the influence of gender on, for instance, US or British foreign policy, Germany has received little attention. Similarly, research on German security policy has largely neglected gender as an analytical concept. The project seeks to close (part of) this gap. Second, it aims to cooperate with political actors and think tankers to develop policy recommendations to reduce 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.

The project is funded by the German Foundation for Peace Research. Funding Period: September 2022-March 2025

3) Populism and World Politics

This project is concerned with the nexus between populism and world politics. Although populism as such has received significant research interest across the social sciences, its international dimensions remain largely unexplored. At the same time, the project strives to contribute also to International Relations (IR) scholarship, which has so far neglected populism as a research topic. However, if there is indeed a “global rise of populism” (Moffitt) – and this seems to be the case –, this will unavoidably have (and de facto already has) a significant impact on a broad range of topics commonly considered to be among IR’s core concerns, including foreign policy, international conflict and cooperation, rule and resistance in IR, and regional and global order(s). As such, doing IR will become ever more difficult in the future if populism is not taken into account.

Together with Dirk Nabers and David B. MacDonald, I have convened a working group at the 2017 annual convention of the International Studies Association in Baltimore, which has culminated in an edited volume that brings together the different contributions presented at Baltimore. The volume has been published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019, and we are currently working on a second edition.

Project Publications:

  • “Left Populism and Foreign Policy: Bernie Sanders and Podemos,” forthoming in International Affairs, with Emmy Eklundh and Thorsten Wojczewski (pre-print).
  • “Discourse, Fantasy and Anxiety in Trump’s America,”  in: John P. Allegrante, Ulrich Hoinkes, Michael Schapira, and Karen Struve (eds.), Anxiety Culture: The New Global State of Human Affairs, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming 2024 (pre-print).
  • “If You’re Not Scared, You Haven’t Been Paying Attention: Trump, the Radicalization of the GOP, and the Future of US Democracy”, Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft/Austrian Journal of Political Science 52:1 (2023) (in German) (open access).
  • “Forget Populism!” Global Discourse 9:2 (2019), pp. 445-451, doi: 10.1332/204378919X15628418445603 .
  • Populism and World Politics: Exploring Inter- and Transnational Dimensions, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2019, co-edited with David B. MacDonald and Dirk Nabers, including:
    • “Introduction: Analyzing the Nexus Between Populism and International Relations”, with David B. MacDonald and Dirk Nabers.
    • “Sedimented Practices and American Identity in Donald J. Trump’s Election Campaign”, with Dirk Nabers.
    • “Conclusion: Populism, Foreign Policy and World Politics”, with David B. MacDonald and Dirk Nabers.
  • Trump und der Populismus. Berlin: Heinrich Böll Stiftung 2017, with Dirk Nabers.


1) Non-state Actors and Foreign Policy

In this project, Rainer Baumann (University of Würzburg) and I tentatively explored two questions: (1) to what extent non-state actors are involved in states’s foreign policies and (2) if theoretical approaches to the study of foreign policy are equipped to address non-state actor involvement.

Project publications:

2) Policy Coordination in German Conflict Prevention Policy

This project, which I conducted together with Christoph Weller, examined German conflict prevention policy. Specifically, we evaluated the German government’s action plan for civilian conflict prevention as an instrument to facilitate policy coordination between different national and non-state actors and to increase effectiveness.

Project publications:

3) Exploring the Visual Representation of Out-of-Area Operations on Social Media

Together with David Shim (University of Groningen), I am conducting a project analyzing how out-of-area operations are represented visually. A first output of the project has recently been published in Global Discourse. In the article we explore the (gendered) visual representation of the ISAF operation on the German armed forces’ official Facebook page. Currently, we work on a second paper on military recruiting. Specifically, we look at the construction of masculinity in the YouTube web series Die Rekruten (The Recruits), which is produced by the German armed forces.

Project Publications:

  • “Soziale Medien und die Legitimitätspolitik der Bundeswehr,” Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen, 28:2, doi: (pre-print).
  • “Militarizing Antimilitarism? Exploring the Gendered Representation of Military Service in German Recruitment Videos on Social Media,” International Feminist Journal of Politics, online first (2021), doi: 10.1080/14616742.2021.1935289 with David Shim.
  • “Social Media, Gender and the Mediatisation of War: Exploring the German Armed Forces’ Visual Representation of the Afghanistan Operation on Facebook”, Global Discourse, online first (2017), doi: 10.1080/23269995.2017.1337982 , with David Shim (pre-print available on ResearchGate and Academia).

4) The German Politics of Military Force: The Discursive Production of Out-of-Area Operations

This project is based on my doctoral dissertation, which was recently published as a book. It analyzes the discursive production of what I call the German “out of area consensus” that emerged in the German Bundestag after unification. The empirical basis is a discourse analysis of German parliamentary debates from 1987 to 2013.

Project Publications:

  • The Politics of Military Force: Antimilitarism, Ideational Change and Post-Cold War German Security Discourse, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press (“Configurations: Critical Studies of World Politics” series), 2020. ISBN: 978-0-472-13221-8 .
  • “The Political Production of Ethical War: Rethinking the Ethics/Politics Nexus with Laclau,” Critical Studies on Security, 7:3 (2019), pp. 230-242, doi: 10.1080/21624887.2019.1690861 .
  • “Securitization as Discursive (Re)Articulation: Explaining the Relative Effectiveness of Threat Construction,” New Political Science 41:2 (2019), pp. 294-312, doi: 10.1080/07393148.2019.1596682
  • “Poststrukturalistische Diskurstheorie und Außenpolitik. Wie lässt sich Deutschlands wankelmütige Außenpolitik zwischen Afghanistan und Irak verstehen?, in: Eva Herschinger/Judith Renner (eds.), Diskursforschung in den internationalen Beziehungen, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2014, pp. 39-74, doi: 10.5771/9783845255873_37 , with Martin Nonhoff.
  • “Légitimer l’armée en operation: les interventions extérieures de la ‘nouvelle Bundeswehr’ dans la rhetorique du gouvernement rouge-vert“, Allemange d’aujord’hui (192) 2010, pp. 25-34.