Working Paper Series
The CSS Working Paper Series welcomes papers on all aspects connected with the research focus of the center and gives authors a chance to increase the circulation, visibility, and impact of their research. The Working Paper Series presents results from ongoing and cutting-edge research at the CSS and partner institutions. Working paper topics reflect the various disciplines involved in the CSS. The Series serves to publish (preliminary) results quickly, and Working Papers may prepare a publication in an academic journal at a later date. Replication studies are also welcomed.
CSS Working Paper No. 5
Merschel, Oliver; Wiener, Antje; Brückner, Hauke; Datchoua-Tirvaudey, Alvine; Riebe, Lennart; Soares, Ana; Mondragón Toledo, Gabriel (2022): Global International Relations. ‘Doing Theory’ from ‘Somewhere’. CSS Working Paper Series No 5, Hamburg, https://doi.org/10.25592/CSS-WP-005.
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Abstract: What does it mean to take the call for more ‘global’ International Relations (IR) seriously for the practice of research in IR and adjacent disciplines? This working paper presents specific themes that Global IR could engage with in the ‘pluralist’ and ‘dialogical’ spirit of the GIR initiative. To flesh out six potential themes that relate directly to the six dimensions of Acharya’s original proposal for Global IR, this paper draws on a reflexive epistemology which prioritises ‘doing’ over ‘applying theory’ based on a ‘view from somewhere’. The themes are identified and outlined in this paper as follows: (1) practicing global IR, (2) towards more global historiographies, (3) decolonising IR contextually, (4) deconstructing concepts for a post-colonial language, (5) mapping agencies, and (6) eschewing exceptionalism. Put forward by a diverse group of authors, the paper exemplifies the productive dialogue among several ‘views from somewhere’. The point of discussing these six themes is precisely to refrain from narrowing down the debate or proposing fixed agendas for future research, and to resist canonisation by conceptualizing Global IR not as a specific theory or worldview but as a continuous impulse to keep reflexivity going. In a nutshell, we argue that if this reflexivity and openness for dialogue are genuinely practiced, Global IR will enrich and advance diverse fields of research without submitting to traditional disciplinary boundaries, hierarchies and modes of knowledge production.
Keywords: agency, de-colonial approaches, doing theory, historiography, language, mapping, practices, reflexivity
CSS Working Paper No. 4
Aykut, Stefan C.; Pavenstädt, Christopher N.; Datchoua-Tirvaudey, Alvine; D’Amico, Emilie; Braun, Max; Karnik Hinks, Ella; Schenuit, Felix; Wilkens, Jan; Rödder, Simone (2022): Circles of Global Climate Governance. Power, Performance and Contestation at the UN Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow. CSS Working Paper Series No 4, Hamburg, https://doi.org/10.25592/CSS-WP-004.
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Abstract: The working paper examines the UN climate conference (COP26) organised in Glasgow in November 2021 as a transnational mega-event, which constituted not only an important moment in international climate talks, but also a temporary convergence point for a multitude of actors and an arena for conflicts and contestation over framing within a broader global policy space. This perspective allows us to offer a view of the current state of global climate politics more comprehensive than those of analyses focused mainly on the negotiations. Using collaborative event ethnography, over two weeks eight researchers identified the material, spatial and social dimensions of the conference. We identify three circles of climate governance, which framed practices, interactions and debates in Glasgow. These comprise an inner circle of state-led negotiations (‘The In’), an official side programme (‘The Off’) and a relatively heterogeneous wider environment of self-organised events (‘The Fringe’). Each circle is populated by a different set of actors and enacts a distinct representation of ‘the global’. Our analysis of dynamics within each of these circles shows that climate governance has entered a new and contradictory phase, where some boundaries are blurred while others are reaffirmed, and where old conflicts resurface while new dividing lines appear. The Paris architecture for reporting and review has been finalised, but thus far the new approach has failed to close gaps between pledges and objectives for mitigation and climate finance. Global political and corporate elites have seemingly come to acknowledge the climate emergency and the need for a global low-carbon transformation, but the solutions proposed in Glasgow remained partial and fragile, and tightly contained within the dominant horizon of capitalist market- and techno-fixes. The communication strategy of the UNFCCC and the UK Presidency used increasingly radical terms to convey urgency and momentum, which in turn risked emptying activist notions of their content and force. A growing part of the climate movement reacted with critiques of corporate takeover and calls for “real zero” instead of “net zero”. In the conclusion, we examine a series of contentious issues and provide avenues for reflection on the future of climate governance.
CSS Working Paper No. 3
Braun, Max; Rödder, Simone (2021): Academic Air Travel. A Literature Review. CSS Working Paper Series No 3, Hamburg, https://doi.org/10.25592/CSS-WP-003.
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Abstract: Academic air travel (AAT) is increasingly critiqued for its carbon emissions. Based on an initial interest in the relevance, persistence and change of climate-impacting practices like AAT as part of global academic interaction and collaboration, this paper presents a literature review to take stock of existing research on AAT. A two-step literature search was conducted, resulting in a range of relevant publications (N=220). The following areas of interest were identified: first, the relevance that academic travel has in the development of the research university and the international connectivity of modern science. Second, functions of meetingness and physical copresence in the context of academic communication, scientific exchange and networking appear as the main drivers of AAT, yet characteristics of the academic career system and labour market as well as tourism aspects play a role, too. Third, discourses around AAT focus on the perceived obligation to fly (“fly or die”), its politicisation with regard to the inequality of access, and justifications for upholding current (pre Covid-19) rates of AAT. Fourth, AAT is increasingly critically discussed in the context of climate change (climatisation). Fifth, alternatives to AAT are discussed, ranging from the use of virtual meetings and the re-organisation of academic conferences to more fundamental changes in the mode of research practices. The review was started before the Covid-19 pandemic brought AAT to an abrupt halt, a situation that now makes researching this social practice particularly timely. We thus conclude that AAT is an emerging and promising area for future research.
CSS Working Paper No. 2
Feddersen, Hauke (2020): Sozial-ökologische Transformationskonflikte im ländlichen Raum. Eine explorative Fallstudie aus konventionssoziologischer Perspektive. CSS Working Paper Series No 2, Hamburg, https://doi.org/10.25592/CSS-WP-002.
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Abstract: In this study, socio-ecological transformation processes in rural areas are examined from the perspective of the sociology of conventions. For this purpose, a qualitative case study based on semi-narrative interviews as well as documents from and about a small community in Schleswig-Holstein, where various transformation projects were carried out, was conducted. The focus of the work is on the analysis of the patterns of justification for the establishment of two citizens' wind companies, as well as the planning of a solidarity-based agriculture in the village. In this micro-sociological study, potential lines of conflict of the agricultural and energy transformation are revealed by analysing the respective patterns of interpretation and legitimation of the actors concerned. As an example, it can be shown to what extent historically evolved path dependencies, structural changes and changing demands in agriculture can lead to cultural and moral conflicts about the "right" way to cultivate the land. At the same time, it becomes clear in which way an active participation of the local population and the connection to existing cultural patterns of interpretation can contribute to a legitimisation of wind energy plants. [Working Paper in German]
CSS Working Paper No. 1
Aykut, Stefan C.; d’Amico, Emilie; Klenke, Jan and Schenuit, Felix (2020): The accountant, the animator, and the admonisher: Global climate governance in transition. Report from the COP25 climate summit in Madrid. CSS Working Paper Series No 1, Hamburg.
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Abstract: The climate summit COP25, organised in December 2019 under Chilean presidency in Madrid, took place under the shadow of an increasingly polarized global political situation. Its objective was to complete the transition of UN climate governance to the framework laid out in the Paris agreement in 2015. The report takes COP25 as a starting point, to examine how the current transition of climate governance is unfolding in practice, and what obstacles it is encountering. It places the focus not only on states and formal negotiation outcomes, but also on side-events, happenings and the role of wider civil society. Based on our observations, we argue that UN climate governance currently faces a set of distinct and partly conflicting expectations. We condense these into three stylized roles: the accountant, the admonisher, and the animator. After discussing each of these roles in turn, we go on to explore the dissonances and disconnects accompanying the current transformation of global climate governance. We relate these to institutional features and legacies of the UNFCCC, but also to new tensions that are rooted in inherent contradictions between the three roles. We conclude by reflecting on possible evolutions of global climate governance, sketching three plausible future scenarios.