EISA – Athens

After Thessaloniki–which was my first ever visit to Greece (I know!)–Athens comes quickly after. A very valuable conference and great opportunity to see new and familiar faces. Much looking forward to this!

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.

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.

‘We don’t do that’

My latest paper in Cooperation and Conflict came out as online first yesterday!

‘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 the 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.

See also my list of publications.

Nachfrage aus dem »Westen« trifft Arbeit aus dem »Süden«

New publication in Zeitschrift für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (English below).

Nachfrage aus dem »Westen« trifft Arbeit aus dem »Süden«. PMSCs und der Einsatz von internationalen labour supply chains in der westlichen Kriegsführung
Private Militär- und Sicherheitsunternehmen (PMSCs) haben in den letzten Jahren viel Aufmerksamkeit erregt. Allerdings wurden sie bislang meist als Sicherheitsdienstleister angesehen und hinsichtlich ihrer Verantwortlichkeitsproblematik diskutiert. In diesem Essay beleuchte ich einen anderen, jedoch sehr wichtigen, Aspekt von PMSCs: Ihre Funktion als Arbeitsvermittler und die Bildung von internationalen Zuliefererketten von Arbeitskräften. Da die Nachfrage nach militärischen und unterstützenden Dienstleistungen größtenteils durch Arbeitskraft aus dem Globalen Süden sichergestellt wird, konzentriere ich mich auf zwei Aspekte: (1) die Rekrutierungspraktiken von PMSCs und die Nutzung des globalen Reservoirs von Arbeitskräften; sowie (2) die Beschäftigung und Arbeitsbedingungen von Drittstaatenangehörigen in Afghanistan und dem Irak. Um die Beschäftigung von Drittstaatenangehörigen durch PMSCs in einen breiteren Kontext zu stellen, gehe ich kurz auf die Globalisierung von Produktion und Arbeit im Allgemeinen ein und folgere anschließend, dass diese Entwicklungen die Verteilung der sozialen, physischen und wirtschaftlichen Kosten und Nutzen von Kriegen verändert.
When demand from the ‘West’ meets labour from the ‘South’. PMSCs and the introduction of labour supply chains in support of Western warfare
Over the years Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) have attracted much attention. So far, however, they have been regarded mainly as security providers and the debate on PMSCs mostly centred on accountability and responsibility questions. In this essay I want to highlight a different but very important function PMSCs fulfil: their function as labour suppliers and the establishment of international labour supply chains in support of Western warfare. Considering the demand for military and support services is largely met by labour from the Global South I will focus on two aspects of this development: (1) The recruitment practices of PMSCs and their exploitation of the global pool of labour; and (2) the employment of Third Country Nationals (TCNs) and the labour conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Moreover, to put the employment of TCNs in conflict zones in a broader context I briefly reflect on the globalisation of labour and production in general and conclude that this development changes the distribution of the social, physical, and economic costs and benefits of the production of warfare.

van Meegdenburg, H. (2017). Nachfrage aus dem »Westen« trifft Arbeit aus dem »Süden«. PMSCs und der Einsatz von internationalen labour supply chains in der westlichen Kriegsführung. Zeitschrift für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung, 6(2), p.289-308.