European Union Diplomacy as Boundary Work: Practising Community in Ukraine (book project)
What constitutes community beyond the state? What holds a community together and makes it cohere over time? At a time during which cultural diversity and pluralism constitute the contemporary condition of global governance, the community question warrants renewed attention. Taking the European Union (EU) as a paradigmatic case of a community without unity, this book seeks to provide novel insights into how this postmodern community succeeds in producing feelings of belonging among its members in the absence of a homogenous ‘we’. Recent advancements in practice theory have made important inroads into exploring the practical foundations of social phenomena, such as order and community. To that end, scholars have harnessed the ‘communities of practice’ approach to analyse their practical instantiations in immediate action settings. In doing so, however, they have largely overlooked processes of identity-building as a crucial dimension of the ‘communities of practice’ approach. This book fills this research lacuna by presenting the first monograph-length praxiology of the EU community within the International Relations discipline, and IR’s ‘practice turn’ in particular.
From Arctic Exceptionalism to Global Arctic: Exploring Pathways of Cooperation in Circumpolar Arctic Governance (Senior Fellowship Project at Käte Hamburger Kolleg/CGR21, 4/2020-3/2021)
With sea ice thinning and new possibilities for trade routes opening up, the Arctic is undergoing sustained changes, fuelling neo-realist visions of conflict and future competition over resources among Arctic and non-Arctic states. Despite these nightmarish imaginaries, Arctic governance continues to be largely cooperative rather than conflictual. In fact, it is considered a laboratory for studying global governance processes that are characterised by a plurality of stakeholders. Hence, the newly emerging narrative of the 'Global Arctic' is gaining ever more traction. Yet, how is this possible in light of this increasingly contested governance space?
To solve this puzzle, the project zooms in on the Arctic Council as the primary intergovernmental policy forum that structures Circumpolar Governance and identifies those processes and mechanisms that bring about cooperation rather than conflict in the Arctic Council. Through the lens of practice theory and critical border studies, it proposes that the Arctic Council fosters sustainable governance pathways through the ‘boundary work’ practiced by its multiple epistemic communities. As a ‘boundary organisation’, then, it has the ability to translate between multiple social worlds, and thus to span the boundaries of different knowledge regimes that range from state-centric forms of knowledge production over Western-centric scientific expertise to more traditional indigenous forms of knowledge.
Over time, said boundary work of the Arctic Council’s diverse epistemic communities brings about regimes of mutual accountability and organising principles that are vital for solving potential disputes peacefully and cooperatively – rather than through confrontation and (threats of) military build-up. The focus on the Arctic Council’s boundary work promises to provide new insights into how global governance institutions can develop sustainable pathways of global cooperation in the face of increasingly pluralistic policy settings.
EU Diplomacy in Crisis: Insights from the EU’s Border (ongoing)
Dissertation Topic (completed)
Constituting Community, Practising Boundaries: European Union Diplomacy in Ukraine
The project contends that the concept of ‘community’ can be analytically captured through boundary encounters of individuals in 'communities of practice'. For the purpose of validating this argument, the project investigates how the European Union (EU) as a macro-social ‘community of values’ is (re)produced by way of EUropean diplomatic missions at its borders, that is in its neighbouring state Ukraine. As a community-creating device then, practice among diplomats from both the EU’s member states as well as from the European External Action Service (EEAS) is examined as to learn whether and, if so, how they come to ‘represent’ the EU’s macro-community.Taking Ukraine as the site of struggle for the constitution of the EU’s community is chosen as to highlight the role of the ‘border’ in enhancing the EU diplomats’ awareness for ‘their’ community. For Ukraine as the borderland is considered the space where ‘the inside’ is reproduced on ‘the outside’ vis-à-vis a perceived ‘other’. An analysis of interviews conducted with senior EU diplomats posted in Kyiv, Ukraine, will support my argument about how the ‘European community of values’ is given meaning by the practices of its diplomatic representatives.
Field Work Activities
- June 2014: final round of interviews with senior EU and EU-member state diplomats in Kyiv, Ukraine.
- Aug-Oct 2012: I did a two-month long field trip to Kyiv, Ukraine, to conduct interviews with senior EU and EU-member state diplomats
- Nov-Dec 2012: I was a visiting PhD fellow at CEURUS, University of Tartu, Estonia, and got supervised by Prof. Viacheslav Morozov. This research was supported by the European Social Fund’s Doctoral Studies and Internationalisation Programme DoRa.