I am senior lecturer in International Relations at the University of Tasmania. I am particularly interested in the sociology of globalisation – that is in the way we humans organise ourselves to connect across national borders. I want to understand the patterns of power and authority that enable or, more often than not, inhibit people to live peacefully and justly together.

Like most sociologists I assume that the reproduction of these structures is largely unconscious. We all contribute to society, whether we want or not, and always without the explicit intention of making society. This conundrum is particularly striking when the intention of our doing is precisely to create peace and justice, and, yet, we do not achieve this ideal.  In my recent book ‘The Distinction of Peace’ I have analysed the case of peacebuilding. Despite of their noble intention to build peace, peace missions have rarely created just and peaceful societies in post-conflict settings. When I started the research for this book I was wondering if peacebuilders, simply by being the people they are, maybe already reproducing power patterns in the world that lay the seeds to the failure of international peace missions. So the book asks  who becomes an aid worker in peace missions and what difference the social selection of careers makes. You can learn more about my book in the section ‘The Distinction of Peace’. 


The Distinction of Peace

 Who becomes a peacebuilder and for which reasons? What kind of education and professional qualification  do you need to work for the United Nations, the OSCE or an NGO in a post-conflict situation? What kind of organisational and normative culture has this international aid activity produced? What does the sociology of the people who do peacebuilding tell us about what peacebuilding is? These are questions I am answering in my book ‘The Distinction of Peace’. Through a variety of methods (surveys, in-depth interviews, participant observation, prosopography, network analysis, discourse analysis) I analyse who becomes a peacebuilder and identify the social, cultural and political selection process that underly careers in this vast field of international aid.

The book has been reviewed in International Sociology, International Studies Review, Perspectives on Politics, International Peacekeeping, Journal of Intervention and Peacebuilding, HSoz-Net, Choices and H-Net.

It is available as open access book here.

From the first page

“This book is not about peace. This book is about the social structures of power in globalization processes. Peacebuilding is a globalization process, and an extremely important one, as it provides the fundamental raison d’être of the United Nations system. The people, organisations, institutions, and agencies, that claim to build peace in foreign lands, exist and act on the grounds of specific patterns of power and domination in the world. 

Continue reading “The Distinction of Peace”

Families in World Politics

My research is broadly about the sociology of global connections. Families are the basic unit of every society, everywhere and across times. Yet, they rarely appear as own subjects of world politics. In my new research project, I will investigate how and why families matter in world politics, and also try to figure out why they have received only scant attention in the analysis of international relations.

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In the second semester 2017 I taught the course ‘International Security’ at undergraduate level. Instead of walking the students through a textbook approach on ‘what is international security’ I wanted them to understand the intimate connection of statehood, sovereignty and understandings of international security. With my new positioning in a settler colony country I was particularly keen to make students understand that sovereignty as territorial control is unthinkable without understanding the cultural and historical specificity of the concept of land ownership — which, in turns, has been underlying the colonisation of Australia (and other places) and the elimination of the native (as Patrick Wolfe has called it).

Continue reading “Teaching”