Past Public Lectures


delivered by our PostDoc fellows

The Syrian refugee crisis: A failure of the EU’s comprehensive approach to security?

Dr. Evangelos Fanoulis

December 6, 2016, 17:00-18:30

Lecture outline: Even though on the table for many years, the EU’s comprehensive approach to security has gained much prominence and publicity since the mandate of the High Representative (HR) Catherine Ashton. In 2014 the Foreign Affairs Council acknowledged the HR’s recommendations with regard to the further operationalisation of the comprehensive approach and asked her and the EU Commission to present an action plan on the implementation of the approach, which they did in 2015. From all this institutionalisation, how much has indeed been tested in practice? Research so far has examined the implementation of the approach in EU activities in Africa (e.g., in the Gulf of Eden, in the Sahel), yet little has been said about the more recent crisis in Syria and the resultant Syrian refugee crisis. This paper looks at whether the EU has made use of the whole spectrum of the comprehensive approach in order to cope with the Syrian crisis and the Syrian refugee crisis, arguing that this has not been the case. The first section of the paper briefly presents the latest institutional developments with regard to the EU’s comprehensive approach to security and takes notice of its so far implementation. The second section examines the EU’s reaction to the crisis in Syria and to the resultant refugee crisis, assessing to what extent they can be seen as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to security. The concluding remarks of the paper revisit the argument and check whether the current political realities in Europe’s neighbourhood may dictate a new wave of institutional modifications so that the EU’s comprehensive approach to security to be more effective in the context of EU foreign policy.

Examining the impact of civil wars and armed non-state actors on state failure

Dr. Huseyn Aliev

November 23, 2016, 17:00-18:30

This lecture examines whether the incidence of civil wars and the presence of violent non-state actors have an effect on state failure. Research on failed states has thus far prioritized armed conflicts as one of the key causes of state failure. This study challenges that claim and posits that civil war incidence has limited impact on the transition from fragility to failure. Global quantitative analysis of state failure processes from 1995 to 2014 is employed to validate the hypothesis that although armed conflicts are widespread in failed states, civil violence does not lead to state failure and large numbers of failed states become engulfed by civil war only after the failure occurs. In addition, this study seeks to demonstrate a direct link between the presence of violent non-state actors and state failure. It also emphasizes that armed non-state actors operating in failing states not only consist of rebels, but also include pro-regime elements, such as militias, warlords and criminal networks. Each of these types of actors is expected to contribute to the process of state failure differently.

Designing Social Research: Before Methodology

dr. Andrea Gilli

May 23, 2016, 15:00-17:00

Lecture outline: Does a cold winter prove that global warming is not happening? Does world poverty prove that international trade makes countries worse off? In order to answer these questions, we need a solid research design – an idea about how to conduct research, included the type of methodology to use, and the data to rely on. This lecture will provide students with solid understanding of research design and will rely on practical examples to illustrate what problems researchers recurrently face and how to address them.

Discourse Analysis: A Quick Guide

 dr. Evangelos Fanoulis

 March 8, 2016, 17:00-18:30

Seminar outline:  In the last decades the notion of discourse has gained momentum in humanities and not merely in sociolinguistics. We saw it figuring in the works of prominent political philosophers such as Michel Foucault and Jürgen Habermas. More recently, discourse analysis has been presented by scholars such as Norman Fairclough, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe as the epistemoligical plane and hermeunetic device to explore the “social” and the “political”. This seminar will try to provide some concrete answers to what discourse is and what discourse analysis entails. The seminar will start with an examination of discourse as an essentially contested concept. It will then briefly present the main schools of discourse analysis: critical discourse analysis and post-structuralist discourse analysis, emphasis paid on the Essex School of discourse analysis. The objective of the seminar is to shed light on practical questions regarding the utility and applicability of discourse analysis for the study of politics. Is discourse analysis simply another method of qualitative research? What type of research questions can discourse analysis help us with? What type of empirical data can we use for discourse analysis? What is the role of the discourse analyst in discourse analysis? Is discourse analysis a suitable analytical tool for sub-disciplines such as electoral politics or policy studies or is it only fitted for political theory?

Socio-Economic Inequality and War: Who Dies in American Wars? The Evolution of Tactics and Technology and the Casualty-Gap

dr. Andrea Gilli

  December 1, 2015, 17:00-19:00

Lecture outline: Are poor people filling the ranks of US armed forces? Do they disproportionately bear the human cost of American military operations abroad? These questions have important substantive policy and theoretical implications, which are related, among others, to policy-makers’ incentives to rely on force as well as to civil-military relations. According to a wide consensus among policy-makers, the public and international relations scholars, the poor are both more likely to enlist in US armed forces and to bear the burden of US security. In this article, we argue that there are two main problems with the existing research. First, its causal mechanism is based on unwarranted assumptions. Second, the empirical evidence supporting this argument relies on aggregate data (e.g., average income and education by zip-code) that do not permit to reach definitive conclusions about enlisted personnel’s socio-economic background. We address these problems by drawing on recent works on the evolution of modern warfare and technology in order to develop a demand-side theory of military personnel that we test on individual-level data gathered from the Department of Defense and the NLSY97 survey. Our empirical analysis questions the existing consensus and shows that, coherently with our theory, those who join the armed forces are not statistically different from the median household with regard to education, cognitive abilities, parental income and other socio-economic indicators. Our work thus provides theoretical and empirical reasons to question the casualty gap hypothesis

The Non-European Other as Undemocratic Barbarian: When the EU Talks about Security through Democracy

 dr. Evangelos Fanoulis

November 2, 2015, 17:00-19:00

Lecture outline: The Arab Spring, the Libyan, Syrian and Ukrainian crises as well as the most recent refugee crisis have acutely depicted how debates on Europe’s Other remain salient and substantial. This lecture discusses the gradual and social construction of European identity, posing two interrelated research questions. What is the significance of the non-European Other for the social construction of European identity? And are democracy and security somehow associated with the process according to which we define Europeanness and its corresponding Otherness? By looking at speeches and statements of the High Representative of the EU, I argue that the current understanding of Otherness in Europe increasingly revolves around lacking a culture of democracy; and that the European Self securitises the non-European Other, stigmatizing it as undemocratic Barbarian, resulting eventually into a distinction of European, democratic Selfness and non-European, undemocratic Otherness. The lecture starts by critically engaging with existing debates on the formation of European identity. It proceeds with analysis on how the European Self defines itself contra to the democratic deficiencies of a non-European Other. The genealogical discussion of the HR’s political statements shows how the EU securitises the non-European Other because of low progress in democratisation. The concluding parts sets the agenda for further research around the topic.

The Diffusion of Drone Warfare? Industrial, Infrastructural and Organizational Constraints

dr. Andrea Gilli

March 30, 2015, 17:00-19:00