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