Christian Bueger

The Political Anthropology of Internationalized Politics

How can the dialogue between anthropology and International Relations (IR)¬†turned into a productive research agenda? This is the core question explored at a workshop I am attending at the University of Bremen from 15th to 16th of September. In the meantime there is significant interest in IR the ethnographic spectrum of methods, and various scholars have proven the utility of ethnographic techniques across the disciplines sub-fields. This has been triggered in particular by the interest in the micro-dynamics of international politics, for “the everyday”, and the concept of practice as a unit of analysis. Anthropology, in turn, has shown over the past decades a substantial interest in questions traditionally pursued by IR scholars, such as the connections between the local and the global, the making of politics, or the distribution of power.

Bringing those lines of reasoning together, the workshop in particular zooms in on the international relations of Africa and the role of bureaucracies, development, and state building. The contributions make a powerful case for the productivity of methods characterized by immersion, “being there”, paying attention to details, and listening carefully. In my own contribution titled “Conducting ‘field research’ when there is no ‘field’. Some notes on the praxiographic challenge” I primarily discuss methodological questions and criticize the usefulness of some of the concepts that are part of the debate, in particular, the concept of a “field”. I argue, abandoning the notion of the field, provides us with the reflexive space for discucssing the practical problems of conducting research on practices of ¬†international(ized) politics.

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