Since my PhD research in Senegal and Mali in 1994 I have studied dynamics of war, state formation and in different policy fields (taxation, social policy) in several countries (Serbia, France, Uganda, Germany). Numerous field research stays abroad and teaching at various universities in Germany and abroad (France, USA, Kyrgyzstan) have enriched my continental theoretical perspective that is built mainly on the political sociology of Max Weber, Karl Marx, Norbert Elias, Hannah Arendt and Pierre Bourdieu.
Over the last twenty years, most of my research has been conducted in teams with PhD students and Postdocs. I am currently involved in three such teams researching the knowledge production in German security policy and research, social policies in rural Africa and the international politics of armed groups.
My interest is to overcome the North-Atlantic bias in IR, based on a critical reading of authors in political sociology and social theory more generally. At the center of my thinking is a pretty Weberian idea, namely the question of how power becomes domination and how domination erodes. This is basically a reflection on why global asymmetries persist or change. My work is situated in political science/International Relations, but I have likewise worked with sociologists, historians and social anthropologists.
I obtained my PhD in 1995 at the University of Hamburg, after having studied political science, philosophy and African studies in Hamburg and Bordeaux. I did my ‘habilitation’, a second exam to become an academic teacher, at Goethe-University in Frankfurt/Main in 2003.
Over the last twenty-five years, I have directed several third-party funded research projects:
State formation and state decay (DFG, Universität Hamburg, 1998-2001)
The Micropolitics of Armed Groups (Emerging Scholar Research Fund, VW-Stiftung, HU Berlin 2001-2007)
Policing Africa (Universität Bremen, 2011-2018)
Social Policy in Africa (co-directed with Alex Veit, Universität Bremen, 2018-2021)
Figurations of Internationalized Rule (co-directed with Jude Kagoro, DFG, 2018-2023)
International politics of Armed Groups (co-directed with Stephan Hensell, DFG, 2021-2024)
Social policies in Rural Africa (co-directed with Roy Karadag, 2022-2026)
Knowledge Production in German Security Research and Policy (co-directed with Sophia Hoffmann, Erfurt, and Dirk Nabers, Kiel, BMBF, 2022-2026)
Apart from six books in German language, I edited or authored these ones in English:
„The Historicity of International Politics. Imperialism and the Presence of the Past”, hrsg. m. Stephan Stetter, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, erscheint 2022.
In this book, a number of scholars from IR, history and historical sociology show with regard to several features of international politics, how the past is present. In this international group that started to work in 2017, we focus in particular on imperial and colonial rule and its afterlife.
„Political Anthropology of Internationalized Politics”, hrsg. m. Sarah Biecker, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.
Social anthropology has been particularly good in describing social phenomena. Ethnography has made a career in recent years too in describing political phenomena that are increasingly internationalized. The book assembles studies of police and prisons in Uganda and South Africa, of refugee camps in Jordan, monetary politics in Kenya, in WHO meetings and in intervening agencies in Somaliland.
„In the Shadow of Violence. The Politics of Armed Groups“, Frankfurt a.M.: Campus / Chicago, Ill.: Chicago University Press, 2009.
The politics of so-called non-state armed groups does not only consist of military action. This book summarizes the findings of several years of research on inner organization, the economic policy and the “foreign policy” of armed groups, based on theoretical ideas from Max Weber’s, Norbert Elias’ and Pierre Bourdieu’s political sociology.
„Dynamics of States. Political Domination outside the OECD”, (ed.) Aldershot: Ashgate 2005.
This book is a by-product of my thesis of habilitation in German language (“Der Staat in der Weltgesellschaft”, 2005). Embedded in a group of authors from France (F. Prkic, B. Hibou, J. L. Rocca), the US (J. Migdal, T. Lewis) and Germany (B. Wilke, J. Eckert), the book suggests a new way of thinking about statehood, namely along practice theory and Weberian sociology. The contributions look at different dynamics of statehood in India, China, Tunisia, Liberia, Pakistan, Mexico and Uganda.
Chair of the study program „Master International Relations: Global Governance and Social Theory“
Theory and History of International Relationas (Lecture, BA)
War and Peace (MA)
Social Theory and International Relations (MA)
Critical Theories of IR (MA)
The Politics of Armed Groups
The Global Social Question
Max Weber; Hannah Arendt; Critical Theory
Theorétiser de l’Allemagne – de Kant à l’école de Francfort
Theories of power, theories of conflict
Debates around National Socialism