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Knowledge and Peacebuilding. The Epistemic Practice of the German Parliament in the Context of Peacebuilding- and Stabilization Mandates for UN and EU Missions in Mali (2013 – 2019).

Picture: Dr. Werner Distler

The project analyses the relation of knowledge production and peacebuilding in the German parliament in the context of German military participation in UN and EU peace and stabilization operations in Mali [Mission multidimensionelle integrée des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation au Mali (MINUSMA) and the European Union Training Mission (EUTM)]. Since 2013, the members of parliament extend the mandates on a regular basis, thereby authorizing the support in the stabilization of the Malian state, the training of the Malian army, and the (quite controversial) counter-insurgency practices and operations in the country. Decisions and debates in the parliament base on pre-prepared knowledge by various institutions, e.g. ministries, on the situation in Mali, the necessity for action and the goals of operations. This is the focus of our project: Where does this knowledge come from? What aspects constitute the knowledge, how is it transmitted in the routines of parliamentary work? With the analysis of practices of knowledge generation, we want to trace which knowledge on Mali dominates, which knowledge is chosen as relevant - and which knowledge disappears or will not be considered at all in the decision-making process.

While literature has discussed the role and importance of the German parliament and parliaments in general regarding military operations and peacebuilding mandates, there are very studies focusing on the role of knowledge in this context. Therefore, working with novel theoretical concepts (like knowledge object and epistemic practice) the project offers an innovative contribution to the debates on knowledge and peacebuilding. The knowledge object (here Mali) is understood as focus point or as a “problem” for governing. The epistemic practice constituting this governing object consists of configurations of speech acts and physical activities, routines, and techniques.

The data sources for the project are mainly documents of the parliament, debates and protocols, and furthermore transcripts from interviews with members of parliament and internal and external experts. The data will be analyzed with the help of the software MAXQDA.

Project Period: 2020-2021 (7 months)

Funding: German Foundation for Peace Research

Principal Investigator: Dr. Werner Distler

Research Fellow: Miriam Tekath, M.A.