In the first week of December, I will be visiting the University of the Seychelles. The university has recently appointed me as an Honorary Fellow and meetings concern the development of the University’s Sir James Mancham International Centre for Peace Studies and Diplomacy. I am also scheduled to meet the team of the chairmanship of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, and as part of my new project SafeSeas study the maritime security sector reform in the country.
In a new draft paper written for the edited volume “Concepts in Action/at Work: On the Meaning of Concepts in International Politics”, edited by Piki Ish-Shalom, I discuss the rise of the concept of “blue economy”. Blending an empirical reconstruction of different forms of using the concept as a tool for advancing political projects, I argue for basing concept analysis on practice theoretical foundations. The draft is available via my academia page at this link. As usually I am delighted for any comments and suggestions.
My new research project titled SafeSeas has received funding for the next 18 months by the British Academy. SafeSeas is a pilot project that studies lessons from maritime security capacity building in the Horn of Africa. The project compares the ongoing efforts to restructure the maritime security sector in four countries (Djibouti, Kenya, Seychelles, and Somalia). The objective is to develop key guidelines and best practices for the programming and implementation of maritime security capacity building and maritime security sector reform. Although maritime capacity building has been done in limited forms for decades by international navies and the International Maritime Organization, it is generally considered as a new field of international activity. The project has four aims:
- to increase our understanding of challenges and effects of MSSR
- to transfer lessons from other fields of capacity building to the maritime
- to develop a methodology for mapping national maritime security sectors
- to identify best practices, gaps and shortcomings in the delivery of capacity building
What are the capabilities and technologies available for the EU’s civilian conflict prevention and peacebuilding work? This was the core theme of a workshop of the EU CIVCAP project I attend on the 18th of November in Rome. At the workshop, hosted by the Istituto Affari Internazionali, I chaired a panel and discussed one of the core outputs of the project so far
Following up on our last years stay, I was visiting Xiamen University (XMU) again from the 8th to 11th of November. In the meantime, Cardiff University is about to sign a formal partnership agreement with XMU and I was part of a departmental delegation which further explores avenues of collaboration in teaching and research. They stay was a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues at XMU and to discuss the current state of international relations and maritime research in China. I also gave a talk, which based on a joint paper written with Tim Edmunds. In the paper, we develop the concept of pragmatic orders and study how ocean governance has become quite substantially transformed through informalization and experimentation. Contact me if you are interested in the paper, which is currently under review.
The special issue “European Diplomatic Practices: Contemporary Challenges and Innovative Approaches” edited by Federica Bicchi and Niklas Bremberg has just come out with the journal European Security. The intent of the special issue is to showcase how practice theory can provide new insights on European foreign and security policy. In my own contribution, I draw on practice theory to explore how the question of European agency can be reconceptualized. I draw on the examples of the EU’s role in counter-piracy. Here is the abstract:
The practice turn provides new avenues for core questions of international relations and European Studies. This article draws on a practice theoretical account to shed new light on the constitution of agency in global politics. An understanding of agency as achievement that requires significant practical work and the participation in international fields of practice is developed. Drawing on the case of the field of counter-piracy practice and the European Union’s (EU’s) work to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia, it is shown how the EU achieved the position as a core actor in the field. A detailed discussion of the EU’s work in interrupting and knowing piracy, in building capacity, and in governing piracy is provided.
What determines who is an expert and heard and which factors shape the dialogue between academia and policy worlds? Those are some of the questions explored at a one-day symposium, I am attending on the 27th of October. The symposium is titled “Borrowed truths: transfers of Expertise and Evidence across science, justice, and politics” and is held at Cardiff University and organized by Dr. Berit Bliesemann de Guevara and Dr. Aimee Grant. Other speakers include Dr. Inanna Hamati-Ataya, Dr.Robert Evans, Dr. Yvonne McDermott Rees, Prof Mark Drakeford, Daran Hill and Prof Harry Collins.
In my presentation I will draw on a forthcoming book chapter in which I discuss the role of expertise in counter-piracy governance.
Our edited volume “Security Expertise: Practice, Power, Responsibility” is now available in paperback. Published last year the book explores the role and functions of experts in security politics. The book argues for a strengthened dialogue between Science and Technology Studies and Security Studies and offers a range of empirical explorations of experts in security politics. Three chapters by Robert Evans, Gil Eyal and Tom Osborne set the scene in outlining different ways of conceptualizing experts and expertise. The chapters by Ole Waever and James McGann discuss the field of security and the knowledge it produces. This is followed by chapters by Judith Reppy, Saul Halfon, Lisa Stampnitzky, Hugh Gusterson, Richard Jackson, Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen, and Piki Ish Shalom which reflect on core questions of expertise in the light of empirical issues such as human security, terrorism, civil-military relations, or the human terrain project.
In the last decade, the strategic importance of the oceans has been quite fundamentally re-evaluated. Discussions on the blue economy have shown the substantial promises of ocean resources for economic development and growth, the importance of which was also emphasized in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. But the oceans are also the source of significant insecurities. The thriving maritime security discourse has forcefully shown this. Scholars have observed the detrimental effects of problems such as piracy in East and West Africa, trafficking of people in the Mediterranean, fishery crimes or the trafficking of narcotics and other illicit goods. The dangers of the sea and the promises for economic prospect have gained particular attention on the African continent.
The African Union adopted in 2014 the African Integrated Maritime Strategy 2050 to provide joint direction and the basis for a cooperative approach to managing blue growth and maritime security on the continent. At a major African Union summit taking place this week in Lomé, Africa’s leaders will adopt a legally binding charter. In the charter, they commit themselves to make more efforts in tackling maritime crime, to share information and build the infrastructure for harvesting ocean resources sustainably. Continue reading
Over the last decade, International Practice Theory has become a strong voice in the repertoire of International Relations theory. A significant number of scholars have engaged in developing a practice-based research and theory for international relations. Practice-driven research remains a very young, dynamic, and highly promising theoretical approach to the study of international relations. Indeed, the practice turn appears to be one of the most productive theoretical and empirical endeavors of IR scholarship in the present decade. Several scholars, each from a slightly different theoretical angle, have introduced practices as an ontological phenomenon and analytical framework into IR scholarship, and spelled out the spectrum and consequences of the practice turn for the field or developed distinct theories and frameworks. With so much theoretical and empirical work already in place it seems to be the right time to pause for a moment and clarify in which sense this community of scholars essentially shares a common agenda, which is broad enough to allow for disagreements and controversies, but which is also recognizable as a distinct type of IR scholarship. To date, no explicit collective discussion has taken shape about the contours that define the practice turn in IR scholarship as a distinct theoretical approach.
The purpose of a workshop, taking place in Cardiff on the 14th and 15th of October, was to do precisely that. Anchoring the discussion in concepts vital in the practice theoretical vocabulary (such as knowledge, power, or order), participants in the workshop explore the identity, borders, and future of International Practice Theory. Participants include Ted Hopf (Singapore), William Walters (Canada), Vincent Pouliot (Canada), Merje Kuus (Canada), Steven Bernstein (Canada), Anna Leander (Denmark), Rebecca Adler-Nissen (Denmark), Joelle duMouchel (Denmark), Frank Gadinger (Germany), Hilmar Schaefer (Germany), and Morten Andersen (Norway).