Christian Bueger


WISC Conference in Frankfurt: Panels on Maritime Security, Expertise and Practice Theory

From the 6th to the 9th of August the World International Studies Committee will hold its 4th conference. The conference is hosted by the JWG University of Frankfurt. The conference has a rich program across the entire spectrum of International Relations. Together with Coventry University and the Bundeswehr University Munich I have organized a panel series titled “Maritime Securityscapes”. In the three panels and two roundtables we explore the agenda of new maritime security studies, with a focus on piracy, non-state actors, securitization of the maritime, and maritime security governance.

In addition I am also the discussant of a panel on titled “How experts shape the globe: On Knowledge and Authority in Transnationalized Legal Fields” and present my paper on the epistemic infrastructure of contemporary piracy in a panel titled “the potential of practice-based approaches in IR”.

New Working Papers on the Lessons from the Contact Group

Two new working papers are available on the website of the Lessons Learned Consortium of the Contact Group on Piracy of the Coast of Somalia. The first one authored by William Smith of Chinese University Hong Kong evaluates the work of the Contact Group in the light of the discussions on legitimacy. The second one authored by myself asks how the internal lessons of the CGPCS can be used to improve coordination for capacity-building in the new Contact Group structure.

Why the fight against Somali piracy isn’t over yet

In a new short contribution to The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, I discuss the reasons for the decline of Somali piracy and why continuous efforts in counter-piracy will be necessary. I argue that the focus on capacity-building of the CGPCS is important, but requires sustained attention. Read the contribution here.

First Maritime Security Summer School great success

The Olympia Summer Academy provided the framework for the first summer school in maritime security (18-22.7.2014). The summer school organized by Cardiff University and brought together 12 students from across the world to discuss different aspects of maritime security and the future challenges for research. The summer school was taught by two academics (Dr. Christian Bueger, Cardiff University and Prof. Harry Papasotiriou, Pantheon University Athens) and one practitioner (Capt. Hartmut Hesse, former IMO special representative). The sessions focused on the concept of maritime security, theoretical perspectives on maritime security, naval strategy, the law of the sea, the work of the International Maritime Organization, an in-depth analysis of maritime piracy, and the challenges of maritime capacity building. The discussion revealed the many gaps in research and analysis that the young field of maritime security studies has still to fill. Especially the role of civil actors, capacity building, and new approaches to managing the complexity of maritime security requires  more academic attention. The new generation of scholars in the field will play a vital role in this.


Article on the Methodology of Practice Theory published

What are the methodological consequences of the practice turn? In my article just published with European Political Science Review, I explore the challenges that studying practices pose and which research strategies and methods are available for the study of practice. The article is available as open access here. Here is the abstract:

Political scientists have started to focus on ‘practice’ as the smallest unit of analysis. Following a broader turn in the social sciences, the practice focus provides multiple advantages, including better conceptualizations of short-term social change, getting closer to the everyday activities of those speaking, writing and doing politics, appropriate conceptualization of agency-structure dynamics, or forms of analysis resonating with other communities than scholarly ones. This contribution asks what the methodological implications of the practice turn are. It is argued that the practice focus does not only imply a certain ‘theory’ but also a certain methodology. I advance the term praxiography to speak about the forms of analysis produced by practice researchers. I discuss key guidelines of praxiographic research on two levels: first, general research strategies that provide empirical access points, second, guidelines for data collection in the frame of participant observation, expert interviews, and document analysis. I conclude in arguing that although praxiography is context driven, and hence requires to be tailored to the research problem, it is vital to reflect on the methodological repertoire of praxiographic research.

Political Methodologies in Practice – A Doctoral Training Workshop

This week we held a Doctoral Training Workshop in Cardiff. The focus was on questions of methodology, methods and skills. In the workshop we blended different discussion formats. Since methodology is always about experimenting and trying things out, we were experimenting with new formats. These helped us to match the needs of the participants with the expertise of the staff, and  sparked a range of discussions of interest to everyone. In a methodology workshop we discussed the projects of participants in smaller groups clustered around the themes of reflexive/interpretive, comparative, and philosophical methodology. In a methods cafe, we hosted tables for open discussion on a range of methods, including interviewing, participant observation, large-n analysis, and discourse analysis. In three roundtables, we discussed publishing, grant funding and career choices. Professor Jef Huysmans from Open University gave one of the keynote talks. In his talk titled “Methodological Acts” he outlined that methods need to be understood as complex practices which have political effects and perform the world in distinct ways.


ideaslab pic

Into the Blue: Ideaslab on 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?

The Ideaslab will feature contributions by Kimberly Peters (Aberystwyth), Jon Anderson (Cardiff), Douglas Guilfoyle (UCL), Peri Roberts (Cardiff), Peter Sutch (Cardiff), Anna Leander (CBS), Tobias Burger (FU Berlin), Heiko Borchert (Sandfire), Bryan Mabee (Queen Mary), Xu Ke (Xianmen), Lindsay Bremner (Westminster), Basil Germond (Lancaster), James Baker (Sandhurst), Ian Lynn (Royal Navy), Peter Roberts (RUSI), Thorsten Bargfrede (EEAS), Merceds Rosello (House of Oceans), and John Guy. A detailed report is available here. 

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In the Field: The African Union and its Maritime Strategy


African Union building

The African Union is increasingly become a lead actor in African Maritime Security. With the conclusion of the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) the core challenge is now to implement the ambitious project of strengthening Africa’s blue economy and addressing maritime instability. To discuss the implementation and how the international community can assist the AU, I am travelling to Addis Ababa from the 12th to the 18th of June, for a range of consultations and conversations. I am also attending a workshop organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation on the 16th and 17th which deals with the same manner. The workshop titled “African Approaches to Maritime Security: The AU and Continental Perspective” includes contributions by a range of African maritime security scholars and aims at evaluating the state of maritime security on the continent and identifying priorities.