I am currently working on two research projects and I am involved in three larger research contexts.
Counter-Piracy Governance – A Praxiographic Analysis
Since 2010 I work on the problem of contemporary maritime piracy with a focus on East and West Africa. The objective is to analyze counter-piracy operations, information-sharing and capacity-building in particular, and their effect on maritime security governance and regional security relations. Since 2013 I am running a research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Future Research Leader scheme [ES/K008358/1]. In the project I am studying the institutional responses to piracy from a practice-theoretical perspective. The project relies on participant observation and expert interviews and monitors current developments to build global and regional maritime security infrastructures. Cases investigated include the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), the African Union’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS), and different maritime security initiatives in East and West Africa.
Results of the project have been published in different journals, including Contemporary Security Policy, Global Policy, International Political Sociology, WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs, African Security or Third World Quarterly as well as a range of book chapters (publications). Part of the project is also to edit a research portal on contemporary Piracy Studies which documents academic work and reflects on current developments in the field of maritime security.
Lessons Learned Project of the CGPCS
Related to the ESRC project, I am since autumn 2013 one of the lead investigators of the Lessons Learned Consortium of the CGPCS. Drawing on the captured experience of the participants of the CGPCS the consortium aims at drawing out lessons of the work of the CGPCS and asks whether some of the approaches taken by the CGPCS can be replicated in other problematic situations. The project was partially funded by a grant from the US Department of State (2014-2015). Further information and outcomes are available at the following website: http://www.lessonsfrompiracy.net. Since 2015 the management of the website and archive of the CGPCS is part of the project.
Maritime Security Studies
Maritime Security has emerged as a new concept and issue domain in the last decade. It is a domain that has gained significant political attention, notably in relation to piracy, migration and human trafficking, an the smuggling of narcotics. It is closely linked to economic concerns under the blue economy agenda, but also more traditional seapower considerations. Maritime Security Studies (MSS) is the attempt to theorize these developments, but also to contribute to the advancement of the practical agenda. Starting out from my work on piracy, I collaborate with different academic institutions, including Coventry University, University of Bristol, University of Stellenbosch, the Centre for Military Studies (CMS), Copenhagen University, and a range of maritime security agencies, including, the UK’s Royal Navy. In 2014 we have launched a mailing list for maritime security studies to which you can subscribe here. Throughout 2014, 2015 and 2016 we have arranged for several workshops and events to discuss the future of MSS including sections at the WISC and EISA conferences.
Outputs have been published so far in Marine Policy, Global Affairs, and Contemporary Southeast Asia. Articles on maritime security cooperation in the Western Indian Ocean and the link between maritime security and the blue economy are forthcoming.
International Practice Theory
Together with a range of colleagues I am developing International Practice Theory (IPT) as an attempt to theorize and study international relations differently. Drawing on a broader inter-disciplinary development, the so-called ‘practice turn’, IPT represent the attempt to study world politics through a focus on practice as the smallest unit of analysis. Practices can be understood as configurations of doing and sayings, artefacts and technologies as well various types of knowledge (such as tacit knowledge or habits). Specifically I am interested in developing insights from classical pragmatism (John Dewey) and contemporary theories of performativity (e.g. Actor-Network Theory) in an IR context with a focus on transnational governance and international organizations.
Results of this project have been published in European Political Science Review, Evidence and Policy, International Studies Perspectives, Journal of International Relations and Development, Zeitschrift fur International Beziehungen, and International Studies Quarterly. Together with Frank Gadinger (Duisburg) I have just completed a monograph on IPT which was published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2014.
Sociology of Science and Expertise
Sociology of Science (or better Science Studies) and International Relations have hardly entered a productive dialogue. However in both theoretical as well as empirical terms such cross-disciplinary collaboration is promising. This concerns the study of the role of experts in international relations, the impact of academic disciplines on policymaking as well as understanding the organization and (self-)regulation of academic disciplines, such as International Relations. I am notably interested in the role of academic concepts in shaping the global political imaginary and in conceptualizing expertise through actor-network theory and other theories of practice. Presently I collaborate with Felix Bethke (University of Duisburg-Essen), Innana Hamati-Ataya (Aberystwyth University) and Trine Villumsen Berling (Center for Advanced Security Theory, Copenhagen).
Results have been published in the journals International Political Sociology, International Studies Perspectives, Journal of International Relations and Development and different book chapters. A book on Security Expertise appeared with Routledge’s New Security Studies Series in 2015 (co-edited with Trine Villumsen Berling).