Cihan Erdost Akin – Gendering Self-Identity and Re-Thinking Ontological Security: Turkey and Militarized Masculinities
Is it possible for states to have a gendered self-identity? While gendered representations on the surface are easy to identify, ontological security in IR, which focuses on the security of state self-identity, has yet to include gender in its framework. This project seeks to incorporate gender into ontological security by aiming to rethink state identity. I will examine Brent Steele's approach to ontological security which assumes that state agents construct the self of the state through their narrative. However, state agents themselves are subject to grand narratives and discursive formations. The existing literature misses this point and focuses too much on individual and rather fixed conception of state identity. Therefore, multiple identities and local contestations are missing in the existing framework. Gender can bring a framework that accommodates multiple identities, competing discourses and power relations. Thus, this project also seeks to bring ontological security to a more critical stance. By studying the case of Turkey and militarized masculinities, I aim to understand how state identity, national identity and state subjectivity interact in a particular context, while problematizing the masculinist underpinnings of the biographical narrative of Turkey. I aim to contribute to the literature by providing a framework for ontological security theory that accommodates a contested, fluid and multifaceted nature of identity. It will also highlight how exactly gender functions in construction and maintenance of identity.
Jacqueline Dufalla – Revisiting Russia: How Russia Challenges the US Hegemony
From Vladimir Putin’s 2007 Speech at the Munich Security Conference, more serious attention has been paid to the idea that Russia could be a global challenger. For the first time, Putin made strong remarks concerning the US in terms of it violating international law. That, coupled with the steady rise of oil and gas prices, led to scholars to group Russia with Brazil, India, China, and South Africa (BRICs) and the ‘rise of the rest’. In the 2000s, the literature examined how Russia was different from its peers and saw Russia as different kinds of challengers. Some, like Deudney, Ikenberry, and Grätz, argued Russia is more of a spoiler, upsetting the US’ plans without replacing or suggesting any plans of its own. Meanwhile, economically, Russia tends to be weaker than the other BRICs, and thus, not a strong challenger. One reason, defended by MacFarlane, Russia could not be considered a challenger is because it was unwilling to engage militarily to defend its position. However, with the Annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the 2015 military intervention in Syria, it seems this is no longer the case. Along with these actions came new rhetoric as well, which introduced more moral rhetoric into Russia’s usual legal-heavy justifications. Furthermore, even earlier in the 2010s with the Foreign Agent Law and providing asylum for Edward Snowden, Russia was becoming more aggressive in its stance against the US. Thus, this project aims to examine to what extent Russia can be considered a global challenger in the 2010s, and what kind of challenger Russia is to the US, both from its own perspective and the US perspective. More broadly, this project will also contribute to how we can understand and analyze the idea of a global challenger more concretely.
Nassim Abi Ghanem - "Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and Peacebuilding"
In Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, few countries remain without ethnic conflicts. Egypt witnessed violence and coup d’états, while Libya, Yemen and Syria an ongoing civil (ethnic) war. Tunisia is the only country that stands out with a certain extent of successful transition and non-disruption of violence. Lebanon is another case in which violence remains contained, despite an evident intersection with the Syrian ethnic conflict. Over the past few decades there has been a great deal of interest in the academic literature on the relationship between civil society organizations (CSOs) and peace-building. However, studying civil society needs to take place for its contributions to existing and evolving peace processes and not only for its limits. Through an empirical work on Tunisia and Lebanon, this project aims at exploring the exact impact mechanisms of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet[i] in Tunisia and similar civic associates in Lebanon that helped in negating conflict an accelerating peace processes. In both cases, a sub-national comparative analysis between cities and towns that witnessed both peace and limited violence will be employed. The work attempts to contribute to filling the gap of how civil society ought to cooperate amongst each other, with the state and international actors by looking at particular (un)successful initiatives that aided the peace process. In so doing, this research process traces the events that local non-state actors utilized to maintain peace and tries to answer the question what role do CSOs play in times of ethnic tensions and how.
[i] The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was established in 2013 by the association of four Tunisian civil society organizations, namely the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT), Union Tunisienne de l'Industrie, du Commerce et de l'Artisana (UTICA), La Ligue Tunisienne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (LTDH) and Ordre National des Avocats de Tunisie. The Quartet facilitated the dialogue between competing political parties between 2013-2014 and had a strong ‘seat on the table’ allowing a peaceful transition to a new constitution write up and elections. The quarter received the Nobel Prize for Peace for 2015 for their work on facilitation and dialogue.