Research Area 2

Self-Positioning of Eastern Europe in a New World Order

Frank Hadler and Matthias Middell

The end of the Cold War has been widely perceived as the starting point of changes to and within world order. Unlike approaches that define world order as the hegemony of one set of values, rules and principles, we conceptualise world order as the result of multiple interventions by many actors that can be explored only by including various spatial scales and formats (ranging from networks to territoriality) where the manifold interventions of these actors take place (Middell/Naumann 2010). At critical junctures of globalisation (as we call exceptionally dramatic changes in the spatial configuration of the world and thus provoking thoughts about a new world order necessary and possible) collective actors (like states, companies, civil society groups, professional associations, cultural institutions, etc.) position themselves anew and frame their interaction with others differently.
While there are many publications on how the end of the Cold War has changed world order, there is a discursive gap on the challenges of Eastern European societies and states in repositioning themselves under these new and dynamic conditions. This research area aims to stimulate the debate on the self-positioning of Eastern European states and societies by inviting area experts studying both Eastern Europe and different other world regions (from Africa to Latin America) to analyse positioning strategies of Eastern European collective actors within this changing world (order). The focus of this research area is on the investigation of new spatial formats of political organisation emerging within Eastern Europe, and the region’s engagement with other world regions. This implies analysing the political narratives legitimising new formats, including references to or inventions of history, and the public discourse on the »way of life« such formats impose (in cooperation with the project on welfare state models in research area 5).

The following fields reflect the primary focus of this research area:

New Regionalisms and Eastern Europe (Ulf Engel, Megan Maruschke, Matthias Middell, Ute Rietdorf, Heidrun Zinecker):
What are the drivers and driving forces of »New Regionalisms« characterised by dynamics of regional identity building, region making and political as well as economic regional integration? What New Regionalisms have been created at the fringes of the Former Soviet Union both outside and inside the former Soviet orbit? How can the relationships among them be conceptualised? How have political narratives legitimised the processes of creating New Regionalisms? How do public discourses reflect on these New Regionalisms? Why do New Regionalisms in Eastern Europe seem to be less stable and under more pressure than similar formations in Africa and Latin America? How do New Regionalisms in Eastern Europe relate to other projects of integration into global processes? What factors determine the capacity of states to contribute to collective arrangements in new regionalisms and which ones constrain these efforts?

Eastern Europe and the system of international organisations (Gilad Ben-Nun, Ulf Engel, Katja Naumann, Katarina Ristic):
What is the public discourse on so-called humanitarian interventions (such as in Darfur/Sudan 2005 ff., Cote d’Ivoire 2010, Libya 2011 or Mali 2013) like in Eastern European countries? How do Eastern European states cope with the challenges of emerging UN norms such as the responsibility to protect or the need to interfere in cases when UN member states are not able or not willing to protect their citizens against gross human rights violations (such as war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity)? What arguments legitimise their actions (intervening or not intervening) in political narratives? How do Eastern European countries vote in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN Security Council (UNSC) with regard to general principles and concrete cases of responsibility to protect? How do the tensions between the right of self-determination and potential imperial legacies impact decisions on a global scale? But the UN-system is of course larger than the General Assembly and the Security Council and comprises an ever growing body of organisations. The question addressed in this field is therefore how Eastern European societies make use of that system for their re-positioning and how do they search for broader coalitions within these organisations for their specific goals and purposes.

Geopolitical positioning and the lasting legacies of the »socialist bloc« (Frank Hadler, Steffi Marung, Matthias Middell, Dietmar Müller, Katja Naumann, Stefan Troebst, Jan Zofka):
What factors define geopolitical positioning of Eastern European states? What role do legacies of the long existence of the »socialist bloc« play, and was there something like a »socialist globalisation« that matters today, for instance, considering the manifold East-South entanglements of COMECON between the then so-called »second« and »third« world? What influence do the traditional geopolitical schools of Westernism, Slavophilism (Russophilism) and Eurasianism have on Russia’s positioning today, and what impact does that have on Eastern Europe’s positioning(s)? How does Russia’s Eastern or Asian geopolitical option matter today? What could be the realities and the consequences of stronger links between Russia and, for instance, China for geopolitical positioning and world order?