Christian Bueger

Term starts in Copenhagen

A new teaching term kicked off at the University of Copenhagen. This semester I will have the pleasure to explore with students two crucial topics.

In the first seminar co-taught with Jan Stockbruegger we explore Global Ocean Politics. We discuss what is at stake in governing the oceans exploring the wide range of problems and actors that the oceans are facing. The seminar adds a teaching component to our ocean infrastructure research group.

The second seminar concerns methodology and research design. In the course titled ‘How to design research in International relations that matters‘, we will explore how research can be designed to resonate in global political discourses and interfere with international practices. With our focus on small scale research projects this is an interesting challenge that we need to get better at tackling.

Meeting of the European community of international relations scholars in Potsdam, Germany

The annual gathering of the community of scholars within the European International Studies Association is taking place in Potsdam this year from the 6th to 9th of September.

At the conference I am participating in a range of discussions presenting new drafts and reflecting on some older work.

I am presenting two new drafts. One is a methodological reflection on how practice theoretical scholarship can intervene in practice developing a framework centered around practical resonance and the making of epistemic objects. The other one is a co-authored draft together with Anders Wivel that continues our work on the agency of islands. We develop a pragmatist realist framework and study the case of Solomon Islands. We argue that the small island state has advanced a new foreign policy style that we describe as sneaky foreign policy. Get in touch if you want to read any of these new drafts.

Three roundtables provide space to reflect on prior work, specifically on questions of knowledge production and expertise, as well as on the role of objects in global politics.

To add some fun to the mix, we are also discussing the contributions that the cartoon series Asterix can make to the understanding of global politics.

Reconnecting Europe and the United States: Conference in Los Angeles

From the 29th of August to the 3rd of September I had the pleasure to attend the American Political Science Association (APSA) annual conference. It had been almost ten year since I attend this conference last, and my primary motivator to attend, was to increase my understanding of where the American political science debate is drifting. The gap between European and U.S. discourses has been growing over the years and it is time to build better bridges again.

While U.S. research is strong in the ways it is methods driven and scholars engage in deep empirical work, conceptual thinking and reflexivity often seems to get less attention. In Europe one can observe the opposite trend: Much focus on concepts and theorizing, less attention to empirical depth.

At the conference I participated in a panel on infrastructures, presenting our collective work in the Ocean Infrastructure research group. A key take away point from the discussion was that the concept of infrastructure, can be an important vehicle to bridge the transatlantic divide.

Writing retreat and field work in Mauritius

Over the last ten days I was with the team of the Ocean Infrastructure Research Group in Mauritius. Together we advanced the draft of our forthcoming book on ocean infrastructure and conducted field work on the 2020 Wakashio oil spill, which is one of our case studies.

In the book we develop a new understanding of global ocean politics by developing a framework centered on infrastructure. We argue that the concept of infrastructure opens productive new avenues for understanding global ocean politics that allows us to overcome the limits of thinking centered on territory, freedom or global commons. We show the evolution of the oceans as an infrastructural space, and show how we can rethink power, law, security and knowledge infrastructurally.

Public event on shipping risks

Fieldwork on shipping risks in small islands

Part of our stay in Mauritius was also a stakeholder workshop and a public event on shipping risks and the lessons from the 2020 Wakashio shipping accident which caused a major environmental disaster in the country. The event was covered in the national newspapers, and we also met with a range of stakeholders individually, including the minister on blue economy, fishing and shipping.

Field visit guided by EcoSud

A particular important experience was a field visit to the site where the accident happened and the coastal region where the oil was spilled. The visit was organized by the local NGO EcoSud. It revealed that the clean up is completed, but that the disaster has some visible and lasting impact on the coastal eco-system, and there continues to be residues of oil in the mangrove forests. In other words, the disaster is not over, but will have to be managed carefully in the years to come.

New article on critical maritime infrastructure protection

Critical maritime infrastructure protection (CMIP) is since the Nord Stream attacks in the Baltic Sea of 2022 a political priority. What are maritime infrastructures, what threats and risks are they facing, and how can they be best protected? These are the questions we address in a new article now out as open access with Marine Policy.

New article on global ocean politics

In a new article published in International Affairs, Felix Mallin and I investigate the current state of global ocean politics. Highlighting the dramatic changes in awareness and rethinking the oceans, we show how the debate is increasingly organized by four new ‘blue paradigms’: maritime security, blue economy, ocean health, and blue justice.

We explore each of the blue paradigms in detail and discuss how they render the current state of the oceans problematic in different ways. In consequence, the proposed policy solutions and instruments diverge quite substantially, and new ways of forging synergies between the paradigms must be identified.

European Council away day on maritime security

As part of the presidency of the European Council, Sweden is inviting the members of the Council working group on maritime security for an away day. The program focuses on the future of maritime security, the Baltic Sea, as well as a range of social, cultural and military-related visits and activities. The event takes place in Karlskrona, the main Swedish naval base in the Baltic, and a city with a long maritime heritage, 13-15.7.2023.

Participating in the event, I am giving a talk on critical maritime infrastructure protection in Europe with a focus on the North Sea, as well as participating in a roundtable on the future of maritime security in the EU.

Protecting North Sea infrastructure – new research partnership

The North Sea is on its way to become the power house of Europe. Ongoing investments in green infrastructures, including wind farms, energy islands, hydrogen production and carbon storage make the North Sea a vital strategic region. Since the Nord Stream attack, the latest, it is known that maritime infrastructures are vulnerable to attack and damage. How can the maritime infrastructures be better protected?

This is the key question that we explore in a new partnership between the University of Copenhagen and the University of Edinburgh led by Andrew Neal and I. With seed funding from the Edinburgh-Copenhagen Strategic Partnership Initiative we will conduct explorative research on infrastructures in the region, threats and vulnerabilities, as well as technical and political solutions.

New article explores communities of practice and global ocean governance

In a new article that has just been accepted by Global Studies Quarterly, Maren Hofius, Scott Edwards and I address a major question of recent ‘community of practice’ theories. Community of practice is one of the major strands of international practice theory. Yet, it has often been of limited use, since it narrowly investigates isolated community. Pushing the debate forward we ask: If the world is populated by communities of practice, how do these interact?

We propose a new analytical framework through which we can study this interaction. To illustrate its value we discuss instances of ocean governance. We show how ocean summits, special representatives and maritime domain awareness are spaces and actors that facilitate interaction.

How can assemblage thinking help to understand contemporary governance?

In a new book chapter that came out today, Tobias Liebetrau and I show how one can use assemblage theory to understand complex polycentric governance processes. The chapter provides an easily accessible introduction to assemblage thinking and shows it can be used as an analytical framework. We discuss empirical examples from maritime security and cyber security that show how we can better understood governance tools, such as best practices and public-private partnerships.

The chapter is part of a volume, edited by Frank Gadinger and Jan Aart Scholte which provides a concise introduction of different theoretical approaches to polycentric governance. It is published with Oxford University Press and available for free here.