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Research

The members of the research group "New Regionalisms in a Changing Global Order" are involved in various collaborating projects and pursue their research in two individual subprojects. Below find an insight into these projects as well as an overview of where material has been gathered and where results have be presented.

Projects

Ulf Engel

DFG Priority Programme (SPP 1448): “Adaptation and Creativity in Africa –Technologies and Significations in the Production of Order and Disorder” (co-director)
Sub-project SPP 1448 “Changing Stateness in Cameroon, Ghana and Ethiopia” (with M. Middell, U Leipzig, and D. Simo, U Yaoundé I).
DFG Research Training Group (GK 1261): “Critical Junctures of Globalization” (director)
African peace and security issues (with J. Gomes Porto, Addis Ababa University)

Frank Mattheis

New Regionalisms in a Changing Global Order: Mapping Latin America and Africa

 

In this project, regionalisms are primarily understood as political projects that aim to build regions by shifting the scales of policies and by creating formal and informal agreements to justify sovereignty claims. The project analyses regionalisms as regimes of territorialisation within a larger process of global re-ordering since the end of the Cold War, The focus lies on the constitution of discursive arenas for negotiations between political, economic, and social actors.

As the composition of regionalisms fluctuates in terms of actors, territoriality, and responsibilities, interactions and frictions of regionalisms within a permanently redefined region increasingly take place. The project addresses the following questions: How do regionalisms communicate with each other? How are competition and overlaps addressed? How are external and internal expectations incorporated? The empirical focus starts with Central Africa and the interplay between the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS/CEEAC) and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC). This focus is comparatively extended towards South America and the interplay between the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and the Union of South American Nations (Unasur). 

Thomas Plötze

Spatialization through Securitization? New Regionalism in Central America

 

The PhD project investigates the question of which regional spatializations evolve out of the Securitization of transnational organized crime in Central America. Based on the theoretical findings of the New Regionalism Approach (NRA) and the spatial turn, I argue that a region does not depict a natural, geographical or political space with fixed borders. Instead, a region is negotiated and continuously contested through discursive practices. Especially in the discussion of security, a central significance is ascribed to regions, as it is argued, that security threats are particularly relevant on the regional level. This is particularly obvious in the discussion about transnational organized crime, as the threats in the discourse are primarily located on the regional level. The project intends to fill out an empirical gap by focussing on the changing spatial references in the security discourse. It is argued that the Securitization of transnational organized crime in Central America serves as a “new driving force behind regionalism”.

The first phase of the dissertation included the classification and study of the existing theoretical literature on the New Regionalism Approach (NRA), the concept of Securitization and spatial theories. As an outcome, it was possible to define the existing academic void and to generate a first research design based on these findings. The second phase of the project was initiated with the classification and study of the existing empirical literature and the preparation of the first field research.

The first field research was realized in autumn of 2013 in Washington DC, USA. As part of the fieldwork various experts of Think Tanks, Security Initiatives and other governmental, international as well as nongovernmental organisations were interviewed on the relevant subjects. Henceforward, the interviews and material from the local libraries is being analysed and the second field research in Central America is being prepared.

There is another third field research in Central America planned for the summer of 2014, to realize Interviews with local based political and civil actors. In conclusion, it is planned to undertake a discourse analysis with the collected empirical material.

Field Research

Ulf Engel

See under Research Projects

In principle, I am conducting regular field research at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and some other sites (in 2013, among others, in Abidjan, Bujumbura, Khartoum, and Kigali; and in 2014, so far, in Harare and Lilongwe).

Frank Mattheis

2014 Expert interviews concerning UNASUR (Ecuador) and SADC (Botswana)
2013 Archival research (France)
2013 Expert interviews and archival research (Gabon)

Thomas Plötze

2014 Central America (July-August 2014)
2014 El Salvador (February-March 2014)
2013 Washington D.C. (primary literature and interview-material)

Conferences, Lectures & Workshops

Joint

New regionalisms in a changing global order – Mapping Latin America and Africa. Vorstellung eines neuen Forschungsprojekts. Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Leipzig, 22. Februar (H. Zinecker, U. Engel and F. Mattheis).
Upcoming: Chairing the panel on The Production of Regional Spaces and Places. Presentation of first empirical findings of field research at the international conference ISA Annual Convention 2014 in Toronto

Ulf Engel

2013

The transformation from OAU to African Union: New regionalisms. Presentation at the Centre of African Studies, Universität Basel. Basel, 6 December.
Africa in the new world order – Respacing Africa. Presentation at the Centre of African Studies, Universität Basel. Basel, 5 December.
International, global and transregional studies – Academic approaches towards the study of globalization processes. Lecture at the Centre of African Studies, Universität Basel. Basel, 5 December.
Round Table „New Regionalisms“. 10th Summer School of the Graduate Centre Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Leipzig. Leipzig, 17 September.
“Critical Junctures of Globalization” and “Respacing Africa”. Promotionskolleg “Formations of the Global”. Universität Mannheim, Mannheim, 29. April.
Respacing Africa: Critical Junctures of Globalization. “Globalization and Global History”. International PhD workshop, Institut des Sciences de l’Hommes de Lyon. Lyon, 13 February.
“Critical Junctures of Globalization” and reflective Area Studies. Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung. Bonn, 6 February.
2014

Südafrika – Auf dem Weg in die große Krise? Zum Stand der Demokratie in Südafrika. GIGA Forum. Berlin, 23. Januar.
Early Warning at Continental Level: From the OAU Mechanism to APSA and the making of CEWS. Lecture at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University. Addis Ababa, 4 March.

Frank Mattheis

2013

"African dynamics in a multipolar world", 5th European Conference on African Studies, University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal. 28 June 2013. Chair and presenter in panel "Regionalism in Africa: beyond EU-centrism" Presented paper: "SACU: From hegemony to consensus?". Lisbon, Portugal. 28 June.
CISS/UNU-CRIS Joint Conference "Co-operation, Integration and Alliances: Regional and Global Perspectives, Challenges and Solutions" Presenter in panel "Economic integration and trade agreements". Presented paper: "South-south trade agreements: The rationale behind negotiations with restricted economic impact". UNU-CRIS Bruges, Belgium, 20 June.
Presentation of arguments and ideas at 4th Flying University of Transnational Humanities (FUTH), XI International Summer School of the Graduate Centre Humanities and Social Sciences of the Research Academy Leipzig, september 2013, Leipzig.

Thomas Plötze

2013

Presentation of arguments and ideas at 4th Flying University of Transnational Humanities (FUTH), XI International Summer School of the Graduate Centre Humanities and Social Sciences of the Research Academy Leipzig, september 2013, Leipzig .
Due to the end of the Cold War and its inscribed dissolution of the methodological nationalism, new security problems and the question of their governance arose widely in political and scientific discussion. One outstanding answer has been proposed by the New Regionalism Approach (NRA). Because of its ascribed “multidimensional character”, NRA scholars tried to integrate the new security problems and their solution by considering regionalism as a new type of territorialisation in relation to globalization. Therein regions were theoretically considered to be constructed by discourses and negotiation processes. However, empirical studies within the NRA have tended to obscure the theoretical assumption by considering regions rather as pre-given facts than as prone to construction. I will therefore frame a research design in this paper which offers a ‘filling’ for the NRA in twofold ways: I claim that through the integration of the concept of securitization and spatial turn in the NRA, the constructive character of regions can be analysed. Furthermore, I claim that the analysis of the interplay between security and region (regionalism) is particularly suitable by studying empirically ‘region-building’–processes in the securitization of transnational organized crime in Central America.
Presentation of arguments and ideas at 8th Pan-European Conference on International Relations of EISA Panel TD30-4: Securitisation and the Constitution of Spaces and Agency, september 2013, Warsaw.
Securitization and Regional Security – The interplay between Region and Security. The emergence of the concept of securitization has revealed various new levels of analyses and interaction be-sides the national level. With the dissolution of methodological nationalism, globalization and the end of the Cold War, the regional level is considered to one of those where most interaction occurs as regions are likewise seen to predominate the production and management of (in-) security in the world. This dialectical relationship of region and security is, however, only poorly elaborated. The original concept of securitization explains the “coat” of a region by securitization (Regional Security Complexes) but regions are only presumed and equated with national territories a priori. Recent elaborations of the concept of securitization have advanced the conceptual and analytical discussion of the security practices but have fallen silent concerning regions. The aim in this paper is to frame a research design wherein both conceptual issues, security practices and region (-making), are analysed in a post-positivistic perspective. The paper unfolds in three ways: (1) By integrating the New Regionalism Approach (NRA) and the spatial turn into the concept of securitization, I argue that the construction of both categories (security and region) can be analysed. (2) By considering both categories prone to discourses, I will indicate a way to understand the interplay between region and security more extensively. (3) Hence, I argue that with the integration of the NRA and the spatial turn into the concept of securitization regional consequences or repercussions due to securitization can be derived. I will try to underline my argument by presenting some preliminary results of the securitization of transnational organized crime in Central America. The empirical discussion of securitization of Central America shows that the labelling of the TOC has led to a change in the security interaction and perception, particularly on the regional level – thus indicating regional repercussions due to securitizations.