‘We don’t do that’ — got a year, volume and issue number

A little update on my latest paper in Cooperation and ConflictIt just got up-graded from online first and now has an volume and issue number! … funny how unspectacular that has become. See also my list of publications, including a post-print (open access) copy of the paper.

‘We don’t do that’: A constructivist perspective on the use and non-use of private military contractors by Denmark
 In this article I put forward a social constructivist perspective on state use of Private Military and Security Contractors (PMSCs). I will argue that state outsourcing decisions are, to a large extent, shaped by nationally shared values, understandings and dispositions. Concretely, I first provide a detailed overview of the extent of domestic and deployed contracting by the Danish Defence and, thereafter, based on a number of semi-structured interviews, I expose the dominant understandings that shaped how PMSCs have come to be understood in Denmark. By so doing I can show that the employment of PMSCs by the Danish Defence remains comparatively limited because it is largely perceived as inappropriate and as incompatible with what it means to be ‘Danish’. Although Denmark too has to balance its international engagements with limited resources allocated to defence (the typical functional pressures) Danish particular ‘soft’ neoliberalism and ‘hard’ commitments to IHL speak against using private actors to make that possible. This means I take in the more abstract, macro-level discussions on the end of the Cold War and the advent of neoliberalism but go beyond by asking whether, and if so how, these and other collective experiences and understandings actually (co-)shape(d) outsourcing decisions.

van Meegdenburg, H. (2018). ‘We don’t do that’: A constructivist perspective on the use and non-use of private military contractors by Denmark. Cooperation and Conflict, 54(1), 25-43.

Call for Papers — Understanding Foreign Policy: The Interplay Between Domestic and International Politics

Workshop at the Dutch/Flemish ‘Politicologenetmaal’ — 24-hour Political Science Conference. June 13-14, 2019, Universiteit Antwerpen.

Conveners: Tim Haesebrouck (Universiteit Gent) and Hilde van Meegdenburg (Universiteit Leiden).

Although US Senator Vandenberg’s 1947 assertion that “politics stops at the water’s edge” is a popular quote among International Relations (IR) scholars, research into actual international relations often includes domestic-level explanations. In fact, domestic factors were constitutive to the sub-field of Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA), are prominent in liberal and constructivist theories, and even realist scholars are increasingly incorporating domestic-level explanations. Over the past two decades, research exploring the role of domestic institutions, societal norms, party positions, public opinion, civil society and the media has illustrated the value of taking domestic factors into account. This ‘domestic-turn’, however, comes with a particular challenge: How can we combine domestic and international level explanations into a sophisticated, integrated framework that captures the complex interplay between the two levels?

In this workshop, we invite papers that further our understanding of this interplay. We aim to bring together scholars with diverse substantive backgrounds that share the aim of studying foreign policy as shaped by both domestic and international factors. We welcome both theoretical and empirical contributions from scholars at all academic career stages. Rather than focusing on individual conditions, papers are encouraged to combine domestic and international factors or to think through how these could be combined most fruitfully.

The workshop is open to all methodological and ontological approaches but innovative and multi-method papers are strongly encouraged. To that end, we also welcome papers that draw on frameworks and approaches beyond the traditional IR-theories, integrating concepts and theories from adjacent fields (from public policy to psychology and sociology). The working language of this workshop is English. The workshop is part of the NKWP/VPW jointly organized ‘politicologenetmaal‘ held June 13 – 14, 2019, at the Universiteit Antwerpen (Belgium). Call for papers: PDF.

The deadline for paper proposals is March 15, 2019. Proposals should include an abstract (max. 250 words), name, affiliation and contact e-mail. Abstracts can be send to: h.van.meegdenburg[@]fsw.leidenuniv.nl.

Call for Papers — Methoden der Außenpolitikanalyse Ansätze, Daten und Perspektiven

Workshop der DVPW-Themengruppe „Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik“

Die theoriegeleitete Außenpolitikforschung hat sich auch im deutschsprachigen Raum als eigenständiges Feld innerhalb der politikwissenschaftlichen Disziplin Internationale Beziehungen etabliert. Aus methodologischer Sicht fehlt bislang jedoch eine eingehendere Auseinandersetzung mit vorhandenen Ansätzen, zugrundeliegenden Daten und Entwicklungsperspektiven zur Erforschung von Außenpolitik. Für welche Forschungszwecke sind welche methodischen Ansätze geeignet und was sind die Voraussetzungen für deren Anwendung? Mit welchen qualitativen und quantitativen Daten arbeitet die Außenpolitikanalyse und wie wirkt sich die technologische Entwicklung auf die Datengewinnung aus? Und welche Perspektiven bestehen für die weitere Entwicklung des vorhandenen Methodenspektrums?

Im Rahmen eines zweitägigen Workshops am 26. und 27. September 2019 an der Universität Erfurt soll diesen Fragen nachgegangen werden. Wir suchen hierzu grundlegende Beiträge zu etablierten und neueren Ansätzen und Methoden und deren Anwendung auf außenpolitische Fragestellungen. Darüber hinaus begrüßen wir auch Beiträge, welche die Vor- und Nachteile bestimmter Methoden vergleichend analysieren, sich mit Fragen der Datenerhebung und Datenanalyse auseinandersetzen, oder welche die methodologische Praxis innerhalb der Disziplin kritisch beleuchten.

Die Veröffentlichung einer Auswahl an Beiträgen ist in einem deutschsprachigen Publikationsformat geplant. Dies soll zum Abschluss des Workshops erörtert werden. Nach Zusammenstellung des Programms beabsichtigen wir die Einwerbung von Drittmitteln zur Finanzierung von Reise- und Übernachtungs-kosten der Workshop-TeilnehmerInnen.

Wir bitten um Einsendung von Abstracts (max. 250 Wörter) mit kurzen biografischen Angaben bis 31. Januar 2019 an aussenpolitik2019@mailbox.org. Call for papers: PDF.

Der Workshop ist eine Veranstaltung der Themengruppe „Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik“ der Deutschen Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft (DVPW). Die Organisatorinnen und Organisatoren des Workshops sind Hilde van Meegdenburg (Universiteit Leiden), Patrick A. Mello (Universität Erfurt) und Falk Ostermann (Universität Gießen).

Process tracing workshop at BIGSSS, Nov 29-30

This week Thursday and Friday I will offer a two-day workshop on ‘Process Tracing’ at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS). Expecting 14 participants with very divers backgrounds and research foci, I am looking forward to some interesting discussions about case study methods in general and their research projects in particular.

In honor of this workshop — and the many that came before it and, hopefully, the many that will still follow — I also just inaugurated a new page to my website dedicated to my process tracing activities. If you are interested: have a look!

DVPW-Kongress 2018, Sept 25-28

It almost feels like a farewell party organized specifically for me: This week’s conference of the German Association for Political Science (DVPW) coincides with my last official work week in Germany! (It is not, of course, my official farewell party but that is unlikely to lessen my fun.)

My own presentation will be on Tuesday afternoon in one of the first panels. The panel as a whole addresses the theme of ‘cosmopolitan responsibility’. Personally I will draw into question whether we can experience and feel such a responsibility and if and how it works when we are called to act upon our ‘common humanity’.

Paper: Cosmopolitan responsibility in practice: Social distance and the challenge of a ‘common humanity’ identity
Slot: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 16:00-17:30, SH 3.106
Panel: Grenzen der Demokratie überwinden — Kosmopolitische Verantwortung als politisches Konzept
Other panelists: Mitja Sienknecht, Jürgen Neyer, Eva Buddeberg, Antja Vetterlein and Hannes Hansen-Magnusson

For more information on the conference and the full program: DVPW-Kongress 2018.

Book review in International Affairs

A book review I wrote for International Affairs was published in their September issue. You can find the final version here (paywall) and a pre-print version here (open access).

Researching non-state actors in international security: theory and practice; Andreas Kruck and Andrea Schneiker (eds.); Abingdon; Routledge; 2017; Hardcover, £84; ISBN: 978 1 138 94782 5; e-book available.
Research, across the board, is becoming more formalised. Whether an ethnographic study, comparative case study or experiment, the list of prescriptions that comes with our methodological choices is growing. This is not necessarily a negative development: transparent descriptions of methodological choices give the reader handles to assess the intent and quality of a study. But method should not suffocate. Where our messy social reality meets a researcher’s practical limitations, trade-offs have to be made – especially in (post-)conflict settings where access may be dangerous, difficult or nearly impossible.

This edited volume balances that fine line between stylized method which allows scholars to make inferences and the messy social reality of security studies forcing trade-offs. Andreas Kruck and Andrea Schneiker brought together scholars from different backgrounds to reflect upon methods ‘in use’. Focusing, albeit not exclusively, on non-state actors in international security the chapters cover a range of approaches – from narrative and sentiment analysis, case study methods and interviewing, to field-experiments and immersion – with a particular eye on the implementation and (dis-)advantages of these methods. The book therewith offers an overview of what is methodologically possible but is also honest about what is difficult… (continue reading).


EISA Pan-European Conference, Sept 12-15

This week I will be at the European International Studies Association (EISA) 12th Pan-European Conference on International Relations in Prague, Czech Republic.

Although I’ll be around earlier, you can find me on Friday morning in the following two consecutive panels each taking a slightly different perspective on ‘social distance‘ and the role of emotions in IR.

First panel:

Paper: Humanitarian Selectivity. Addressing the Socio-emotional Side of Intervention Decisions and Support for Humanitarian Aid
Slot: Friday, Sept. 14, 09:00-10:45, RB 106
Panel: What is ‘Humanitarian’ in International Relations? Meanings of a contested concept
Section: S22: Humanitarian Affairs in International Relations


Second panel:

Paper: Saving Strangers: On Social Distance in International Relations
Slot: Friday, Sept. 14, 11:15-13:00, SB 227
Panel: Engaging with Difference for Peace
Section: S48: The Politics of Otherness

For the conference website and full program, click here.

On holidays…

… I will be out of office until August 17 exploring Kyrgyzstan.

post-holiday photo-update: the below picture is taken at the south shore of lake Issuk-Kul close to Bokonbayevo.


Politicologenetmaal, June 7-8

This week I am traveling to Leiden to take part in the Dutch/Belgian ’24hrs of political science’ conference — time for me to re-integrate in the Dutch-speaking pol. sci. community.

My contribution:

Paper: Domestic support for international interventions: Addressing the social and emotional dimensions
Slot: Friday, June 8, 09:00-10:30
Panel III: Micro-level approaches to conflict participation and resolution
Workshop: Opening the black box of international conflicts. Individual, domestic and multi-level perspectives.