Christian Bueger


Annual Conference of the International Studies Association (ISA)

From the 6th to the 9th of April I am attending the annual conference of the ISA. The conference which continues to be the main meeting place for scholars in International Relations is fully virtual this year. I am giving short presentations at three different roundtables which concern key themes that I am concerned about theoretically at the moment.

The first roundtable, organised by Simon Pratt from the (U Bristol) and Rebecca Adler-NIssen (U Copenhagen) discusses how we can better study implicit and tacit knowledge and how the concept of “folk theory” might be useful to do so.

The second roundtable is a discussion on the potential of international political design. Design is here understood as redirecting social science towards the making of a diverse range of objects, and going beyond written text. Given my interests in working with practitioners, co-production, the design discourse provides interesting new directions. The roundtable is organized by Jon Austin and Anna Leander (Graduate Institute, Geneva).

The third roundtable that Filippo Costa Brunelli (St Andrews) and I have organized concerns the informalization of world politics. Scholars from different corners of International Relations will reflect on their work on informality, when and how global governors and statesmen turn to informal forums, such as the G groups, or world conferences, and what the consequences of this shift is. At the roundtable I will talk about my long term research with the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), which is a paradigmatic case of a contemporary informal governance mechanism.


Discussion on Suez Canal Crisis

The Suez Canal blockage that ended on the 29.3. is one of the major recent crises in international shipping. What is it’s relevance beyond short term economic costs? This was the key question I explore in the Al Jazeera news show Inside Story.


New article on the security of submarine data cables

More then 90 per cent of the worlds communication travels through the global submarine data cable network. Although this is a vital infrastructure we know relatively little about how the network works, how cables are protected and what forms of global politics they are part of. In a new article co-authored with Tobias Liebetrau forthcoming with the journal Contemporary Security Policy, we explore the current state of research and what political questions the network raises, ranging from hybrid threats and accidents to global governance, geopolitical contestation and digital sovereignty.

The article titled “Protecting hidden infrastructure: The security politics of the global submarine data cable network” is available as a pre-print on Academia. The published version is available here.


The limits of capacity building

At a recent event I have presented and discussed the main insights from our research on capacity building for maritime security drawing on our recently published book on the Western Indian Ocean, but also the ongoing work in the AMARIS project on maritime security in Ghana.

The presentation was in the frame of the Marlog Titbits lunch seminars on maritime governance. Watch the recordings on You Tube.

A summary of the key arguments presented was also published with Lloyds List, which can be accessed here.


The World Ocean Summit

This week I am attending the Economist’s World Ocean Summit. It’s applaudable that the event this year is open and free. Summits such as these are increasingly important in ocean governance.

Judged by the agenda we are looking at a blend of deep crisis rhetoric and what Evgeny Morozov nicely coined as “solutionism”: The idea that the internet, big data, surveillance and innovative financing will fix the ocean’s problems. While some high level politicians will give grand speeches at the event, the tone is, that private solutions are required. It is foundation money and start ups that are meant to address the problems featured: fishing, plastic and zero emissions.

Yet, what is the role of the state in all of this? Law, law enforcement, blue crime and maritime security do not feature in the debate. Ocean governance will only work, if industry, foundations and the state work hand in hand. Wasn’t that one of the lessons of the pandemic after all?


Podcast on practices and pragmatic ordering

What does it imply to study international practices? How do international orders change? How can practice theory and pragmatist philosophy translated into models useful for empirical research? These are some of the questions that we explore in an edition of the Practice Theory podcast available here.

The discussion with the hosts Elizabeth Shove and Stanley Blue takes as starting point the recently published article “Pragmatic ordering: Informality, experimentation, and the maritime security agenda”. Co-authored with Tim Edmunds the article was recently published as online first with Review of International Studies. Contact me to receive a copy.


Talk at Ocean Seminar Series

On the 24th of February I am giving a talk on Maritime Domain Awareness and its effects at the MARIPOLDATA Ocean Seminar Series organized by the University of Vienna.

The speaker series is organized by the ERC funded research project MARIPOLDATA that studies the power and influence of marine biodiversity data on ocean governance.

My talk draws on my recent book chapter that summarized the historical development of a global network of MDA centers. I theorize these developments through the conceptual framework of “epistemic infrastructures” that I developed in a 2015 article. The framework invites to study the practices through which MDA is designed, maintained and repaired. Contact me to receive the draft paper.


Upcoming workshop on international practice research

What are the current gaps and trends in international practice research? This is the core question that we will investigate at an upcoming online workshop on February 18th and 19th.

Co-organized by the EISA Section on International Practices, the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, and the Center for Global Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg-Essen, we will discuss in two afternoons the state of practice research, future themes, as well as a set of ongoing projects from new voices in the debate. Davide Nicolini will provide the keynote address titled “Revisiting the Relationship between Practice and (Academic) Theory from a Praxeological Perspective”.

Find the detailed program and registration link here.


Maritime Security course at University of Copenhagen

With the term starting in Denmark, I will be teaching a new edition of my course in maritime security. The course is open for master students in the political science and security and risk master programmes.

The course has two main goals. Firstly to introduce students to security problems at sea, why they matter, and how they are currently addressed. Together we review the state of the art of maritime security, the issues, and actors.

Secondly, participants engage in their own small research on project on maritime security. Our goal is to push the debate forward together. This year participants will join task forces, that work on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, maritime security governance in Denmark, submarine data cable protection and oil spill prevention.

Contact me directly if you are interested in the syllabus.


New article presents a model for changes in governance

In a new article authored with Tim Edmunds (University of Bristol), we develop a novel model to study change in international orders. We show the value of the model of pragmatic ordering by studying transformations in ocean governance. The article is available as a first view with Review of International Studies. Contact me to receive a free copy.

We advance pragmatist and practice-theoretical assumptions that invite us to emphasize ordering processes, everyday and informal activities, as well as experimental forms of governance. On this basis we develop a five-stage model of change:

Model of Pragmatic Ordering

The model integrates philosophical ideas with recent evidence from global governance research on the rise of informality and experimentalism. We then use this model to study the oceans, first zooming in on the changes induced by the arrival of maritime security and then second on the developments in the Western Indian Ocean.

As we show the oceans are not facing an emerging state of anarchy or disorder but are subject to a substantial re-ordering process. The model of pragmatic ordering is highly valuable to investigate the consequences of other recently recognized problems, such as extremism, climate change or cyber security.