Christian Bueger

Keynote Address at Conference in Darmstadt

The oceans are becoming increasingly a key theme across disciplines. In what is sometimes called the blue or oceanic turn, scholars ask what is particular about the maritime, how does it differ from land, and what does it imply if we ground our thinking in the sea. The conference titled “Maritime Conflicts and Promises in History and Present” held on the 19th and 20th of November was an interesting contribution to this line of thought. Working and thinking across different disciplines to better understand the oceans.

I had the pleasure to give a keynote address at the conference titled “Global Ocean Politics. A short history of current paradigms.”

Launch of the Copenhagen Ocean Hub

Yesterday we celebrated the launch of the Copenhagen Ocean Hub. The Ocean Hub is a cross-faculty initiative of the University of Copenhagen that aims at facilitate the debate among scholars working on the oceans from disciplines such as political science, history, anthropology and law.

The Ocean Hub’s main goal is to provide an intellectual space for the rich community of 30 ocean researchers at the University, to act as an incubator for innovative ocean-related research projects, and to translate our insights to broader Danish and European publics and policy processes.

As one of the co-directors of the initiative I was delighted to open the evening program. Following welcome notes from the Head of the Department of Political Science and the Deans of the Social Science, Humanities and Law faculties we explored the theme: Is the land more important than the sea?

Vincent Gabrielsen, Kristian Soeby Kristensen and Katherine Richardson explored the theme in short inspirational talks from different angles.

Talk on maritime security at the IFSH

Today I had the pleasure to give a talk at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH). In my talk titled “Inside the global maritime security assemblage” I drew on the model of pragmatic ordering outlined in recent article to explore how maritime security implies a new problematization of ocean space. I then discussed how maritime security spurs regime complexity and fragmentation drawing on insights from the TOCAS project. I ended in discussing whether and how we might witness a re-ordering process on an institutional level that would eventually lead to a consolidation and settlement process on a global level.

New Commentary on Maritime Security Cooperation and the UN Security Council debate

In a new commentary co-authored with Jan Stockbruegger we demonstrate the need for more cooperation between the global seapowers to tackle blue crimes. Taking our point of departure in the August 2021 high level open debate on maritime security in the UN Security Council, we argue that it is time to think beyond the sea as a space of geopolitical competition and start to address common challenges at sea. The commentary is available here.

NATO Conference on Maritime Security Regimes

Over the last two days I had the pleasure to participate in an online conference hosted by NATO’s Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Center of Excellence in collaboration with the three other NATO Center’s that specialize on the maritime. Titled the “Maritime Security Regimes Roundtable” the event discussed the key challenges of security at sea.

In my own presentation I addressed the question “Does the UN require a maritime security structure?” drawing on an earlier commentary in reaction to the UN Security Council debate on maritime security.

Military Politics – The state of civil-military relations debate

On November 1st and 2nd, I had the pleasure to participate in a conference titled “New Perspectives on Military Politics” organised by Royal Danish Defence College (RDDC), and the University of South Denmark (SDU). The conference brought together an interesting set of strategic thinkers, military professionals and academics from the North Atlantic community to reflect jointly on the relation of military and politics, and the state of the debate on civil-military relations. I had the pleasure to chair a panel at the conference.

Discussion on Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific

What are the political and strategic implications of the new world political region, the Indo-Pacific? This continues to be a question that puzzles many think tanks and strategy makers. More and more states and regional organizations develop genuine strategies for this region, and debate if and how they have a role in the region. Since the Indo-Pacific is in the first instance an aquatic region, such debates often directly point to maritime security.

Maritime security, as we have come to conceptualize it, is comprised of three dimensions: 1) Inter-state relations and conflicts emerging from disputes over territorial claims, borders and resources and grey zone activities that can be harmful to international connectivity or the marine environment; 2) extremist violence at sea, comprised of terrorist organizations using or directly targeting maritime activity, or spillover from such activities into the sea; 3) transnational organized crime, or ‘blue crime’ including marine piracy, the smuggling of narcotics and other illicit goods, irregular migration, or illegal fishing and deliberate pollution. In many ways, it is the latter category that forms the conceptual heart of maritime security and it’s relate field of study, not the least since such threats are often transnational and emerging.

In the Indo-Pacific debate, often the opposite is the case. The new regional lenses often imply a focus on great powers and their relations. It is the inter-state dimension that gains most of the attention. Too quickly the discourse turns to what happens in the capitals of Washington, Beijing, London and Paris. The challenges that matter the most to smaller states, such as islands, the livelihood of coastal populations, or to the maritime industry quickly fade into the background: blue crimes, piracy, illegal fishing, climate change mitigation. Such issues are not only important because they directly affect the lives and human security of billions of people. They are also issues that can only be addressed through international cooperation. They are also issues that cannot be addressed by military means in the first place.

Re-centering the understanding of maritime security in the Indo-Pacific in such challenges, is an important reminder that our futures are not by necessity determined by great power rivalry. An action space of cooperation and shared global problem solving persists; an alternative future is possible. Navies will have an important part in that future, but solving the emerging challenges in the Indo-Pacific order implies to think beyond great powers and the military instrument.

These are some reflections that came out of my participation in an event on October 26th organized by the European Council on Foreign Relations Indo-Pacific Strategy Group, titled Comprehensive Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific.

Do I supervise PhD projects?

On a regular basis I receive emails from people who are interested in writing a PhD dissertation. In this short comment I like to give a general response to some of these emails and provide some guidance to consider before you get in touch with me.

Firstly, I am always delighted to hear from great talent from across the world. In principle I like to help, but since I receive many inquiries, I am not always able to respond as detailed as I would like.

Secondly, I can only further discuss proposals and ideas for PhD projects, which align relatively closely to my expertise and research interests, which is in

  • theory driven international relations research that engages with contemporary social theory, in particular practice theories and related approaches (see my book with Frank Gadinger for my general understanding of practice theories);
  • studies on expertise and knowledge production in world politics, that investigates the role of knowledge and science in international governance processes (see my reconstruction of the literature here, and the approach I am developing here);
  • studies of ocean governance, maritime security and blue crime, that are interested in conceptual innovation, theory development as well as empirical depth. At present I am in particular interested in maritime regional cooperation processes, maritime domain awareness, capacity building and issues such as pollution from shipping, subsea infrastructure (cables, mining, etc.) and naval base strategies.

If you’re project is not closely related to those issues, I might not be the right supervisor for your project.

Thirdly, my current home institution, the University of Copenhagen has very particular requirements on accepting PhD candidates. One of the features of the Danish system is that PhD positions are paid full time positions. For the application process at the University of Copenhagen procedures see here. Key is a solid early academic track record and a very well developed PhD proposal that lays out contribution to the field, methods, organization of thesis, a timeline and why our department is the best place to carry out the project. PhD positions are highly competitive and my department usually employs 4-6 scholars per year across the political science sub-disciplines. The University of Copenhagen might hence not be your primary choice for carrying out your project, and it might be useful to explore other options.

There are many excellent PhD programmes in the world, and in particular the UK and German systems are comparatively easier to gain access to. If you are interested in writing a PhD in a maritime security or ocean governance related topic, I recommend to explore a number of other PhD programmes including possibilities at

This is just a small collection of places and supervisors to consider. Should you get accepted to one of these programmes and if your research is closely aligned to my research interest under extra-ordinary circumstances I might consider acting as an external co-supervisor.

Phd defense on practice, innovation and protection of civilians in South Sudan

I had the pleasure to act as the chair of the assessment committee for the PhD thesis of Anine Hagemann. Written at our department under the supervision of Ole Waever, the thesis provides a detailed ethnographic account how the protection of civilians in South Sudan was organised and recurrently restructured following crisis events, such as crimes, attacks, floodings or Cholera outbreaks. Throughout the camps that were supposed to be ad hoc short lived places of shelter became well fortified and logistically organised cities.

The assessment committee consisted of Professor Michael Barnett and Dr. Leben Moro as additional members. The committee agreed that this was an extra-ordinary thesis and following the defense on the 18.10.2021, recommended the award of the degree.

Dissertation on Mare Nostrum successfully defended

Today I had the pleasure to act as external examiner at the University of St. Andrews in the defense of Maurizio Carmini’s dissertation. In the thesis, which was successfully defended, Carmini investigates the role of the Italian Mare Nostrum operation in the addressing human smuggling in the Mediterranean. Carmini assesses the effects of the mission on the basis of documents and first hand interviews with Italian navy officials. The thesis was supervised by Dr. Peter Lehr.