New research article on ritualized conference spaces & the evolution of peace research professionalism in Germany

As it often happens in academic journal publishing my latest article From Social Movement to Ritualized Conference Spaces: The Evolution of Peace Research Professionalism in Germany has been work in progress for quite some time.
This is the final product based on my doctoral research project.
The article takes a qualitative-historical approach to investigate how discussions, gatherings and discourses of peace research in Germany have been transformed over time into ritualized events. Over time, traditional ideas of open and inclusive debates within a social movement have been replaced with the rituals of the academic conference industry.

In proper academic language

The article employs anthropological ritual theory and the concepts of symbolism and liminality to provide a theoretical framework for analyzing ethnographic insights into the academic peace research community in Germany. Using secondary sources for a broader historical outline, I analyze the evolution of peace research discourses in Germany from the beginnings as a new social movement to a contemporary professionalized policy space in which knowledge discourses are (re)produced. Academic conferences and the routines around presenting theoretical papers have become institutionalized by the ritual dynamics of a small group of organizers and venues, fostering “indoor rituals” that represent transformations of the activities of the “outdoor” peace movement that was active in postwar Germany for many decades.
As always, an un-gated pre-print version of the final article is available on Academia.edu.

Reflecting on the published article that is based on research that I conducted quite a few years ago, I asked myself the very academic question whether I would ‘do it again’ and what I have learned since conducting primary research for my PhD.

The second question is easier to answer: The rituals of academic conferences have attracted more attention-especially global gatherings of the big ‘studies associations’-mostly in connection with questions around diversity and (re)presentation. My recent posts on #allmalepanels or the general inflation of ‘awful’ academic conference experiences have been heavily inspired by these discussions in the academic industry.

Which brings me to the first question: Yes, I think it is important to engage with community practices and changing forms of professionalism over time. This allows for important nuances beyond twitter-able claims to add simply more women or enhance diversity at conferences in other ways. These are important steps, but in this day and age of the ‘metricized’ neoliberal university we need to ask tougher questions about how to build and maintain social movements and inspiring communities inside and outside academia.

Especially in Germany where academic social media engagements are still limited, professional bodies still gather very traditionally and academic output is still focused on very conservative outlets (there is a reason why ‘Festschrift’ is one of those un-translatable German words…) we need to continue debates and push for more participatory and creative ways to meet, share and ‘influence’ society.

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