The projects and publications listed here are grounded in ‘global’ empirics. Thus far, this term refers to empirical casework in/on Europe, North America, and Russia – through the new focus on urban protection also brings in cases from North Africa, East Africa and Central Asia.

Securing the city: The global politics and practices of urban protection

ZürichMarrakechKathmanduCities are or have become the key locales of everyday life. Since a few years now, the majority of the world’s inhabitants is living in cities, and with this the protection of ‘the urban’ has become an ever more important challenge: The securing of the city, i.e. the development of comprehensive security dispositives specifically targeted to urban habitats, has become a pressing policymaker issue, and it now also emerges as a new research topic in international security studies. This 2016-2019 Swiss National Science Foundation Ambizione research project, institutionally attached to ETH Zürich’s new Institute of Science, Technology and Policy, contributes to this new security studies focus on cities. Based on a comparative empirical analysis of urban protection policies and practices in Switzerland, Morocco, Rwanda and Nepal, it examines how urban security dispositives are turned towards an integrated management of local, national and international dangers of all sorts. It analyses how this process includes use of new tools and actors, and integration and internationalization of existing ones, and how it is influenced by political systems, technological access, cultural influences and traditions of urban planning.

Teaching world politics in the East, the West, and in-between 

Saint Basils cathedral; Moscow, RussiaParliamentBern, 17.7.2003 c Peter Mosimann: BundeshausPedagogy plays an important role in the (re-)production of national and international policy ideals and state interests. Yet, the ways in which foreign policy practitioners are educated in world politics has been given little attention thus far. How are civil servants and foreign affairs officers instructed at different academic and vocational schools? This upcoming 2016-2018 research project looks more deeply into the contents and practices of teaching world politics in the ‘East’, the ‘West’, and ‘in-between’. The research project, which is co-funded by the Swiss National Science Fundation and the Russian Foundation for Humanities, and jointly led by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, brings together a team of scholars from Russia, Canada and Switzerland to investigate this question.

Does everyone need a national IR school? Better not.

BISAAt the ISA Annual Convention in New Orleans numerous scholars drew on the sociology of IR literature to call for the creation of ‘national IR schools’, i.e., new and exclusively locally defined approaches to world politics and international analysis. An Indian school of IR ranked prominently among the candidates, but so did a Chinese school of IR, an Anatolian and a Brazilian one, and further propositions made at the panels and roundtables I attended centred on Eastern Europe. Hearing these calls, I wondered: Is the institutionalization of national IR disciplines really what the sociology of IR research agenda seeks to achieve?

Hagmann, Jonas (2016). Does everyone need a national IR school? Engaging the sociology of IR’s most recent appropriation. British International Studies Association BISA @40 Posts. 12 February. PDF

Teaching ‘statist’ behavior: The case of diplomatic academies


Diplomatic academies are instructive cases of how the production and dissemination of ‘international knowledge’ is conditioned by institutional factors. With their vocational focus, diplomatic academies are first and foremost sites for educating the praxis of state-behaviour. This orientation notwithstanding, the academies should not be dissociated from disciplinary IR. Already, diplomatic academies are closer to practical world politics, and thus to the central research object of IR – a point that itself warrants close(r) engagement with the diplomatic field and its professional reproduction. What is more, the barriers between diplomatic and academic training have become more porous recently, and both fields are marked by similar processes at their overarching institutional level, i.e., elements such as evolving mandates, the internationalization of contents and design, and a general commercialisation of activities. With a view to exposing a different site of international education and to generating further insights on the institutional sociology of IR, this contribution considers diplomatic schools as interesting hybrid sites of international education.

Hagmann, Jonas; Lebedeva, Marina (2016). Teaching (as) statist practice: Diplomatic schools as sites of international education. International Studies Review 18(2): 349-353. PDF

Towards an institutional sociology of the International Relations discipline

ISRThe sociology of International Relations (IR) literature successfully unpacks the discipline’s political and intellectual penchants. Yet curious enough, it has not given more attention to the discipline’s embodiment in concrete institutions. How does the organization of social scientific fields, education policies, and related institutional transformations condition the production and diffusion of scholarly knowledge about world politics? This forum promotes a dedicated engagement with the ‘institutional sociology’ of the discipline. Its ambition is to highlight the diversity of sites and settings where specialized knowledge about international relations is produced, shaped and re-instantiated. In doing so, the focus on IR’s institutional layer becomes an important vector for opening up the literature to insights from related fields of study.


Grenier, Félix; Hagmann, Jonas (2016). Sites of knowledge (re-)production: Towards an institutional sociology of International Relations scholarship. International Studies Review 18(2): 333-336. PDF

Reclaim the fences: Rethinking Barranquilla’s security architecture

TropicsIn many European and North American cities, reclaiming the street has become an important agenda. By re-appropriating sealed terrain from motorised mobility, so the idea, public space is reinvigorated and widened – even if only temporarily. When visiting Barranquilla this spring for the inauguration of Universidad del Norte’s Institute of Urban Studies, it struck me that an even more important architectural element to re-conquer is found in the vertical dimension. Certainly, roads are also to be re-appropriated in Barranquilla – and they most effectively are during Carnival season. Another prominent form of separation I observed throughout the centre, however, is posed by the innumerable gates and fences that shoot skywards in front of seemingly each and every building, and which impose physical barriers to shops and homes, even to gardens.

Hagmann, Jonas (2015). Reclaim the fences: Rethinking Barranquilla’s security architecture. Markets in the Tropics (ETH Zürich: Urban Think Tank) 2: 27. PDF

Engaging world politics through national lenses: IR teaching at leading American and European Political Science departments

EJIRThe emergent sociology of International Relations (IR) literature investigates the discipline’s organization and inner structuring. It makes the field cognizant of its own institutional and intellectual configurations and thus empowers scholars to engage more critically with IR’s analytical, geocultural, and political lenses. This contribution notwithstanding, the literature continues to focus on ‘flagship’ publications as indicators of intellectual proclivities, and on scholars as their only relevant audiences. This article challenges this focus. Making the case for an inquiry into classroom socialization, it maps the paradigmatic, geocultural, gendered, and historical perspectives taught to students in the case of 23 leading US and European IR graduate programs. It points to differences between the ‘instructed’ and the ‘published’ discipline, and shows how the former is governed and constrained by a variety of intellectual parochialisms. Problematizing the educative functions of these, the article advocates a more self-reflexive understanding of IR teaching.


Hagmann, Jonas; Biersteker, Thomas (2014). Beyond the published discipline: Towards a critical pedagogy of international studies. European Journal of International Relations 20(2): 291-315. PDF

Resilience: Unpacking a trend security concept 

JRR‘Resilience’ has become a trend security concept. In many places, resilience has become seen as a fundamental component of devolved proactive approaches to mitigating complex threats whatever their nature. Yet, the resilience concept’s practical applications are as diverse as its definitions. Even for those considering resilience a useful framework, a significant challenge still lies in its  characterization and quantification. This article examines ways in which resilience has been operationalized methodologically. It details ways of measuring resilience, reflects on the development of the highlighted cases, their benefits and limitations. The article maintains, however, that resilience should not be reduced to a methodological problem only. This is because its operationalization also connects with analytical ideas of what and whose kind of responsibility should be measured – as well as political conceptions of who assumes what tasks and responsibility in the resilience framework.

Prior, Tim; Hagmann, Jonas (2014). Resilience: Methodological and political challenges of a trend security concept. Journal of Risk Research 17(6): 281-298. PDF

The analytical and epistemological limits of risk analysis

JRRThe Fukushima catastrophe tragically epitomizes the limitations of dealing with natural and technical hazards. Remarkably yet, authorities’ review of the catastrophe continues to be limited to mistakes and responsibilities of practical risk management. Although state regulations are questioned, technical protection measures verified, and disaster management processes optimized, no deeper discussion about the limits of risk analysis has been engaged thus far. How trustworthy can risk analyses be, and what kind of statements about the future can they actually formulate? This article examines the analytical and epistemological boundaries of risk analysis. Drawing on cases of international nuclear risk management, it tests and problematizes the definition of risk, the methodology of their registration, and the interpretation of their results. Following this discussion, the article draws conclusions concerning the usefulness and necessity of a differentiated and informed discourse on the potential and the limitations of the risk analysis method – an approach which today enjoys increasing popularity in a variety of policy sectors ranging from critical infrastructure protection to national and international security.


Hagmann, Jonas (2012). Fukushima: Probing the analytical and epistemological limits of risk analysis. Journal of Risk Research 15(7): 801-815. PDF

Private actors as objects of national and international security governance 

Bryden Caparini Private actorsThe international regulation of non-state security providers centers on two debates. On one hand, there is the discussion whether private agents allow for an effective provision of security. Drawing on the idea of global governance, the thrust of the argument is that decentralized regulation and provision of security provides superior effectiveness to centralized, government-sponsored approaches. This debate highlights that the security sector has been transformed into a non-centralised collective of security providers comprising a multitude of different actors with non-hierarchical relationships in many regions of the world. On another hand, there is an on-going debate about the means by which such non-state security providers can or should be held accountable to international humanitarian law, international human rights law especially. With their traditional focus on states, these legal frameworks often fail to address non-state actors. Both of these discussions accept the notion of security governance. Yet in so doing, both fail to address the important issue of democratic control and oversight.

Hagmann, Jonas; Kartas, Moncef (2006). International organisations and the governance of private security. In Bryden, Alan; Caparini, Marina (eds.). Private Actors and Security Governance, pp285-304. Münster: LIT Verlag. PDF