Current Dissertations

David Bitterling

Sanitized Humanity: Doctrinal Justifications for Air Power as a Tool of Foreign Intervention

At first inspection, the language employed by post-Cold War defence doctrine dealing with air power and foreign intervention may appear to make conflicting promises: Air power is portrayed as clean, surgical, as safely discriminating between enemy combatants and civilians, while simultaneously bringing to 21st century battlespaces overwhelming force, instilling shock and awe in the enemy, and easily piercing the fog of war to bring decisive victory. The proposed research sets out at an initial impression of serendipity, or apparent inconsistency, aiming to trace the narratives about air power that are transported within doctrine. Through employing an inductive, theory-generating approach that finds its roots within linguistic philosophy, it seeks to break open the language of air force organizations and practitioners to gather insight into how they describe and justify their tools, their practice, and ultimately themselves.


Isabel Serpa da Silva

German Cybersecurity Practices. On the Discursive Formation of Cyberspace in the Federal Republic of Germany

In crafting security strategy, the federal government of Germany commonly refers to cyberspace as fifth domain of warfare. This framing and the subsequent security policy decisions on the military use of cyberspace mark a turning point in security policy practice. It displays a progression into a new era of strategic thinking and action, in which the ability to secure digital territory sovereignly is becoming an increasingly normal phenomenon. However, those developments must be viewed critically since the linguistic appropriation of cyberspace holds great potential to alter its design features – hierarchy freedom, decentralization, openness, anonymity – in favor of national security. In the pursuit of a cybersecurity architecture that can guarantee both, security and freedom, German discourses among political and extra-parliamentary actors are characterized by ambiguous language and contradictory positions. Based on this observation, this dissertation aims to use methodological tools of Grounded Theory and Objective Hermeneutics to reconstruct the justifications and critiques of state and non-state actors in crafting cybersecurity strategy. Consequently, new insights on the deontic commitments and entitlements that guide the discursive formation of cyberspace in Germany shall be generated.


Jens Bartsch

Mapping European Defence Cooperation by listening to the "locals"

European Defence Cooperation (or: Integration) is an emerging field of study characterized by vocabularies in need of further theoretical grounding and with very few approaches to assess the impact and relative importance of cooperation projects. This project aims to provide a heuristic capable of “mapping” the landscape of European military capability development projects on the basis of a reconstructive approach focusing on the language use of defence practitioners. In line with Peirce ́s pragmatic maxim that a concept ́s “effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings” constitute the outline of the concept itself, it investigates the effects of interdependences created by cooperation projects on professionals in European defence ministries and multinational institutions, as reflected in their use of language to describe their workFindings from this reconstruction of the relevant images and conceptions of cooperation manifesting themselves in practice are then used in the creation of a new terminology of defence cooperation, contributing to a better overview of the current state of play in European defence and allowing for justifiable judgements of what, if anything, can be considered the kind of qualitatively different integration (as opposed to: cooperation) presupposed by existing literature.


Florian Hubert

Praxis of 'international Order'. A Reconstruction

Given the various uses of 'international order‘ in prominent IR vocabularies, theorizing order and its meaning in concrete situations of world politics (praxis) has remained surprisingly neglected. Rather, the notion is usually assigned with ontological content and presupposed as a given state of the system, being best captured with stability instead of contingency. Thereby,  established semantics that guides our way of 'seeing' and making sense of world ordering are confusingly beeing taken for granted as representations of the world, holding us captured in theoretical and epistemological 'puzzles'.
This project uses pragmatism and an empirically grounded reconstructive approach to develop a Rortyan redescription of 'international order' by looking for clues in a Kuhn’s sense on what constitutive functions 'order' fulfil in different language games, that are being played in present world politics; or: "in praxis". This offers a new perspective beyond increasingly confusing semantics and enables us (IR Theory and Practioners alike) 'to go on'  with more useful ways of looking at and 'doing' international order(ing).


Benedikt Franz

Messages from the Engine Room: Making Sense of Autobiographies by Diplomats

That diplomats have been prolific writers of memoirs and autobiographies is well known. Yet, the diplomatic studies literature displays unease when it comes to this type of ‘diplomatic writing’. Often, they are regarded either as ‘data mines’ or their status as such is questioned because they are deemed unreliable sources. My dissertation project starts from this diagnosis and tries to advance our approach to ‘diplomatic memoirs’ by employing more recent discussions in history and literary studies, which help to overcome the stalemate just mentioned. Autobiographies, in this view, are not read as ‘windows to the past’, but rather as a social practice, namely as acts of communications. The aim of the dissertation is, based on a selection of different memoirs, to empirically unearth which kind of speech-acts diplomatic memoirs constitute.