Christian Bueger

In the Field: Visit to Northwood

NATO, Northwood, Image courtesy of NATO

Yesterday, I visited the Northwood Headquarters of NATO and EU NAVFOR near London to discuss the contribution of the “big three” multilateral naval operations in the fight against piracy to the Lessons Learned Project for the Contact Group. The Lessons Learned Project is a collaboration between Cardiff University, the EUISS, OBP and IPA tasked to capture the experience of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, to draw lessons from this experience, and ask whether the success of the Contact Group can be replicated to address other problematic situations. Further information is available here.

The meeting was very productive and there a promising prospects that NATO, EU NAVFOR and CMF will feed their experience on military coordination into the Lessons Learned Project. The way that operations are organized in the Gulf of Aden and the broader Western Indian Ocean and navies from around the world collaborate to prevent piracy is one of the most fascinating part of counter-piracy. Through mechanisms such as SHADE, the IRTC, MSCHOA, and the Mercury system international navies not only are successful in stopping piracy, but have found a unique way of military coordination making counter-piracy a truly global effort. Understanding how this cooperation works and how it could be replicated in other situations will be a major component of the Lessons Learned Project.

PhD Course on the Methodology of Interviewing in Politics

Home of the Department of Politics and International Relations

On April 9th, 14:00-18:00, I am teaching together with Ian Stafford a PhD training course on different methodologies of interviews. The course provides an advanced introduction to the methodology of interviewing in a political science context. Along with text analysis, interviewing is perhaps the most widespread qualitative method used in political science and international relations. Interviewing is however not only one of the most complicated and resource intensive methods, but also requires a high degree of methodological reflexivity. In this short course we discuss the core problems of planning, conducting and interpreting interviews as well as writing with interview data. The course is suitable for PhD Researchers in Political Science and International Relations in all stages of their research. In the course we discuss the following issues: Continue Reading →


Roundtable on Ocean Governance @ Cardiff University

1981837_542379992548900_4835037357932295673_nOn April 8th we will discuss questions of maritime security and ocean governance in a roundtable on “How can the oceans be governed?” at Cardiff University. The roundtable brings together a range of scholars from Cardiff University from different disciplines working on maritime issues. The roundtable is a further step in strengthening cross-disciplinary collaboration in the field of maritime research. Further information is available here. In my own presentation I will discuss how the new maritime security agenda changes our understanding of the oceans and how they will be governed in the light of the UK’s upcoming maritime security strategy. I argue that what is going on here is quite a substantial if not radical revaluation of the meaning of the sea and an entirely new attempt to govern the oceans. The security logic is creeping into one of the last domains that was untouched from it before. The sea is becoming securitized. If you are an optimist this will imply that more attention will be paid to what happens at sea and the oceans as a social and environmental space will be better off. If you are a pessimist that will imply new forms of control and new sources of disputes and violence, and potential of escalation.

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Conference on Future Challenges of Maritime Security

Maritime Security is a complex, interconnected challenge and addressing it requires close cooperation and coordination among different agencies, including the navies. On April 1st and 2nd I participated in a conference organized by the Naval Staff Strategy Unit and the Global Directions program of Merton College Oxford which aimed at discussing how to rise to these challenges. The conference drew together a range of participants from think tanks, universities, NGO’s, IO’s and navies to ask which strategies can be developed for navies in a maritime security environment. In the conference different regional theaters, including the Gulf, the Mediterranean, or the Gulf of Guinea were discussed as well as the broad range of maritime security issues, stretching from illegal migration and fisheries crime to piracy and climate change were debated. In my own contribution I drew on a recent article published in African Security to ask how a maritime strategy can be build around the task of the facilitation of maritime security communities. Building maritime security communities is a viable end for maritime security strategy. Two core challenges however arise, firstly, the problem of overlap and regime complexity, and, secondly, how to ensure ownership and and organic growth of security communities.

International Studies Association Conference in Toronto

From March 25th to 29th I will be participating in the 55th Annual Conference of the International Studies Association. I am part of five panels. On Wednesday Felix Bethke and me present our new paper on the sociology of IR, which presents a bibliometric analysis of fashion trends in IR. Our Panel “WC13: IR Going Places: Empirical Investigations of a Dividing Discipline” has an exciting range of papers discussing quantitative approaches to the sociology of the discipline.  In “WD10: Critical Security Studies Methods Cafe”, we draw on the great experience from last year and discuss methodologies and methods for the study of security. Together with Vincent Pouliot I’ll be running the table on practice approaches. On Friday I participate in the  Roundtable “FB06: Assemblages and International Theory”. We discuss the outcomes of the new edited volume on Assemblages (Re-Assembling International Theory. Assemblage Thinking and International Relations, edited by Michele Acuto and Simon Curtis, Palgrave MacMillan). On Saturday I am part of two panels. In the Panel “SB07: “Be Kind, Rewind”: ANT, Pragmatic Sociology, and Innovative Frameworks for IR” I will present my recent work on Piracy and Problematization theory. Finally, I will be the discussant for the Panel “SC44: Knowledge in International Relations” which discusses different approaches to Knowledge and Epistemic Practices in IR.

Presentation on Practice Theory and Piracy at CEU

On March 5th I will give a presentation on how knowledge about piracy is produced in the UN system at the Central European University in Budapest. I use the case of piracy to argue for more attention to researching how the practice of international knowledge generation. Further information on the talk and the paper that it relies on is available here. This is the abstract of the paper:

How are international phenomenon rendered knowable? By which means and practical devices is international knowledge generated? In this article I draw on the case of contemporary maritime piracy to introduce a research framework that allows addressing these questions. Arguing that the practices of international knowledge generation are weakly understood I show how concepts from science and technology studies provide us with the tools to study these practices empirically. Relying on the practice theory of Karin Knorr Cetina, I introduce the concepts of epistemic infrastructures, epistemic practice, and laboratories and demonstrate how they spur interesting insights on knowledge generation. I investigate three ‘archetypes’ of epistemic practices in detail and show how these generate knowledge about piracy for the United Nations: the quantification practices of the International Maritime Organization, the interpretation work of a Monitoring Group and the net-work of a Special Adviser. The article introduces an innovative agenda for studying knowledge generation in international relations by focusing on the practical epistemic infrastructures that maintain knowledge about international phenomena.

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CfP – Into the Blue: Rethinking Maritime Security

On June 26th/27th we are organzing an IdeaLab on Maritime Security at Cardiff University. The objective of the two days IdeaLab is to explore how the maritime as a security space can be grasped from different disciplinary and practical perspectives. The intent is to discuss work in progress, exchange perspectives and develop ideas of what theoretical and practical contributions a collective project of transdisciplinary Maritime Security Studies can make to understanding the maritime and to facilitate the governance of maritime life. The aim is to address general theoretical questions pertaining to the maritime space as a field of international activity, to consider the governance of the maritime and the securitization processes underlying it and to study the international strategies towards maritime capacity building in regions such as Eastern and Western Africa. The IdeaLab will hence focus on the following themes:

  • How can the maritime as a space of international practice be theorized?
  • From Seapower to Maritime Security: How does the securitization of the maritime unfold?
  • After UNCLOS: What are the challenges for governing the maritime?
  • What responses to maritime threats such as piracy are available?
  • What maritime security strategies are required for just and sustainable order at sea?
  • What are the roles of navies, coast guards and development agencies in capacity building and external assistance in maritime security and developing the blue economy?
  • What are the objects, methods and priorities of Maritime Security Studies?

We invite contributions which address one or several of the workshop themes. Please submit an abstract of up to 500 words, together with a brief biography (up to 300 words) and your full contact details, by April, the 1st, to

Performativity and Agency Workshop in Frankfurt

From 21-22. of February I am participating in a workshop titled “Performativity and Agency in International Politics”. The workshop organized by a team from the Goethe University brings together an interesting crowd of researchers working on performative theories, ranging from expressions of post-structuralism, international practice theories to STS and ANT work. I am presenting a new paper titled “Performing piracy: A note on the multiplicity of agency. Or, Pirates in an Adventure with Social Theorists”. Below is the abstract of the paper. Send me an email if you are interesting in reading the draft.

“This is a study of pirate agency. Starting from an understanding of agency as an effect of ‘agencements’, I offer a reconstruction of six of such formations. Relying on different experiences with Somali piracy, ranging from watching movies, playing computer games, participating as observer in various meetings, taking field notes, talking to interlocutors to reading academic literature, I show how different agencements produce different forms of agency. Throughout this reconstruction we meet different pirates, the pirate who refuse to be a pirate, moral bandits, enemies and villains, criminals, entrepreneurs, and pirates as ‘symptoms’. These are forms of agency that are effects of the relations and practices of distinct agencements. Various ‘actors’, ‘objects’ and ‘practices’ produce these relations: journalists, moviemaker, actors and directors, game developer and graphic artists, diplomats, military officers and international bureaucrats, as well as various scientists across the disciplinary spectrum, including economists, peace researcher, anthropologists, political theorists, historians, computer scientists, or political scientists are all in the business of producing pirate agency. They engage in a diverse set of rhetorical and material activities, such as calculating, modelling, drawing, negotiating, writing or history telling and engage with a broad host of objects, artefacts and inscriptions, such as movies, graphs, formulas, games, policy documents, or legal texts. The analysis presents a primer for the study of multiplicity of agency and its production. “

Talk on Piracy @ Bristol

On 19th of February I will give a talk in Bristol titled “The Rise and Fall of Somali Pirates: Theorizing Maritime Security Governance in Eastern Africa”. The talk is part of the Global Insecurities Centre Visiting Speaker Series and takes place in Room G2, 10 Priory Road – Wednesday 19th February, 1pm. In the talk I discuss the current state of Somali piracy and present a number of insights from my ongoing ESRC-project on counter-piracy. Specifically I am interested in the effects of Somali piracy and the prospects for maritime security governance in Eastern Africa in the mid-term.

Public Lecture on the Performativity of Piracy in Cardiff

On 12th February 2014, 5.00pm, Room 2.18 65-68 Park Place, Cardiff, I will give a lecture that draws on my recent research on the performativity of piracy. Here is the summary:

This talk is an invitation to an adventure with pirates and social theorists. Mobilizing a broad arsenal of cultural resources such as current movies about piracy from Captain Phillips to The Expendables, computer games, legal texts or pirate statistics, Christian Bueger asks in this talk what the agency of contemporary pirates is and why piracy is problematic. In the talk Somali pirates enter into a dialogue with social theorists, such as John Dewey, Bruno Latour and Michel Foucault. The result is an outline of different forms of contemporary agency and means of producing international problems. The following discussion provides an opportunity to debate the state of Somali piracy as much as different forms of performativity.