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Workshop: Production Chains and Security Apparatuses: On the Intersections of Value and Violence in the 21st Century

24.02.2022, 8:45 Uhr-25.02.2022, 17:30 Uhr
Universität Bayreuth - Humboldthaus

Workshop: Production Chains and Security Apparatuses: On the Intersections of Value and Violence in the 21st Century

International Relations and International Political Economy have produced few analyses of the intertwined nature of value production and violence in the last thirty years. This is a heavy burden for the analysis of the present and its historical origins, as colonial path dependencies, the ongoing practices of securing cheap raw materials from the Global South and contemporary world order cannot be grasped without the relationship between market and violence.

In view of the novel geo-economic and geopolitical challenges facing Europe and Germany between the old ally USA, the promises of a state-capitalist China and the perennial question of how to deal with its immediate neighbor - the African continent - as part of a utopian ‘Euroafrica’ or a continent to wall itself off from,  there is an increasing need to jointly analyze internal social, external economic and external political developments as a unity and to no longer rely on the division of academic labor between specialists of domestic policy, foreign policy analysis, economics or its disciplinary variants.

The workshop brings together novel theoretical approaches aimed at understanding the exercise of violence and economic processes as interdependent. We want to make visible the connections between (non-)state security apparatuses such as military, (border) police, intelligence services, armed groups, security companies on the one hand and economic infrastructures, their production and maintenance on the other. Value chains and logistics hubs, but also the regulations and laws of the global capitalist order have to be constantly secured and enforced. Violent actors do not only secure the capitalist order: they also produce and shape it through their own economic interventions in the global market. Technologies of violence are constantly being innovated, for which dynamic markets are critically important. New knowledge - from data mining to drones monitoring – is the source of effective policing; at the same time, it is a source of profit for corporations and military actors themselves.

Ongoing and extremely violent conflicts raise questions that IR and IPE do not adequately address or answer. The disruption of formerly powerful Arab republics (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt), the consolidated power of conservative monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar), and the failure of the 2011 popular uprisings can only be explained through a perspective that considers economic and security interests together and, most importantly, recognizes the central actors as both economic and military stakeholders. The particularly brutal counterrevolution in Egypt, where the military is the nationally most important economic actor, is only the most obvious example here.

With a view to German and European geoeconomics and geopolitics, questions about how to deal with China, the US and the African continent have become more urgent in the face of US protectionism and Chinese assertiveness both in Africa and across its broader sphere of influence. How can we think about the place of the West in the world after the 30 years of (neo)liberal institutionalism in which the founding and financing of ever more international organizations and the imposition of free trade across the world seemed the best way to secure the hegemony of ‘the West’? Is a rapprochement towards China - cherished by the German automobile industry - on the horizon or a serious partnership with the African continent?

Bringing together voices from International Relations and International Political Economy focusing on the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin-American but also on production regimes and security apparatuses together in a mutually beneficial dialogue will shed new light on such questions as:

  • Theoretical approaches that challenge the separation between security and economic policy
  • Comparative and international analyses of foreign economic policies;
  • Examples of economic interventions and strategies by security/violent actors;
  • The impact on violent conflict of international debt and development policies;
  • IMF and World Bank and their entanglement with security policies in recent decades;
  • Conflict analysis and war research linking geopolitical and geo-economic causes.


Thursday, 24. February 2022 - Friday, 25. February 2022


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