Alumni Senior Fellow

Prof. David Chandler

Alumni Fellows

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research
Schifferstr. 44
47059 Duisburg

Tel:  +49 (0)203 379-5230
Fax: +49 (0)203 379-5276
E-mail: chandler@spam


Prof. David Chandler joined the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research as a Senior Fellow from February to April 2017 to conduct research in the Research Unit 4 'Paradoxes and Perspectives of Democratisation'. Before that he already joined the Centre as a Senior Fellow from October 2012 to June 2013.

Research Project at the Centre

Legitimacy Crises and Public Protests

During the second part of his stay at the Centre, David Chandler will be working on the 'Legitimacy crises and public protests' project, particularly as this relates to the mapping/perceptions of time and space. As part of this project, he will be convening a Käte Hamburger Dialogue on 'Mercator, Mapping and the Digital' and a workshop on the same theme towards the end of his stay. Legitimacy in modernity depended on the ability to govern space, today with the speed of digital communication and exchange it seems that the governance of time is now central to securing in the Anthropocene. In this shift, mapping as a technology is transformed: the ability to trace/draw together connections and relations to predict the future or to adapt in 'real time' becomes more important than the spatial ability to sort and order distinct entities according to fixed locations or positions. Attempts to govern time through alternative phenomenologies of mapping and through developing new technological sensory assemblages of responsivity thus become central to the contestation of legitimacy and development of new political alternatives of human and more-than-human cooperation.


Former research project during his stay from October 2012 to June 2013:

Democracy and the Shift to the Social

Chandler's starting point is that democracy today seems to be increasingly seen as a capacity or  capability of subjects, which needs to be socially inculcated. This shift from understanding democracy as a formal political attribute to a social or societal attribute shifts the problem of democracy to the social level. As a social problem the resolution seems to be much more problematic as social processes are less transparent and less open to direct policy intervention. In effect, the problematic of democracy becomes de-materialized, reduced to internal, invisible, non- measureable relations and attributes or civic ethos. Democracy (in terms of social empowerment) is increasingly not seen as the starting point for policy-making but as a goal itself.

To study this shift to the social, David Chandler proposes three analytical frameworks which he will use as a starting point for his research: 

  • Pragmatic: The shift from top-down institutionalism
    Essentially, this approach states that in order for democracy and freedom to work, there needs to be the right institutional framework – in terms of checks and balances of power - ensuring that there is not a winner-takes-all situation. The gap between the promise of democracy and the reality is resolved through a problematisation of the subject rather than the context in which subjects act. The shift to the emphasis on civil society and culture enables external actors to lower their horizons of what is possible and invest less resources rather than more. The area of intervention is now the heads of the subjects who need to be democratized rather than the structures or institutions of society. This then becomes a discourse of empowerment and capacity building – which can involve in the depth intervention in terms of behavioral change or much lighter forms of intervention.
  • Globalization: Reflection of domestic political understandings of democracy
    The shift from democracy at the formal public level to the societal level is often framed in the context of what is called “globalization” – a descriptor which recognizes that states are seen to assert less power or control over events and processes and that in an increasingly complex and interdependent world states’ relationships with societies become much less directive and controlling. Of interest in this perspective is the democratization of democracy through the extension of rights into the private and social sphere – these are not liberal democratic rights but “empowerment rights”. Once problems are seen as societal rather than political, democracy becomes a discourse of social rather than political empowerment. Here it is the poor and the marginal who need to be empowered on the basis of a perceived lack of capacity.
  • Participation, empowerment and a world without political goals
    In this view the shift from the state to the social is driven by a particular conjuncture of the demise of traditional left forms of political contestation and the global credit crunch needs of capitalist accumulation. Liberal govermentalism merely takes on a new and contingent formulation. The end of the politics of left and right symbolizes the lack of social contestation which was at the heart of democratic politics conceived as a mechanism of social cohesion, with the state standing above society - conceived in liberal discourse as an independent and autonomous actor. Rather than a future-orientated understanding of the world, the evacuation of alternative visions of the future has led to an inversion of liberal teleologies where the appearance of the world is traced back to the actions of human subject. Democracy then is about “freeing” the subject to enable it to respond to the problems of the appearance of the world through altering behavioural choices.

The shift to the social can be understood not as a set of pragmatic governing responses to a particular political and economic juncture but as a powerful inversion of liberal frameworks of legitimating and rationalizing governmental rule. New framings of the political and of democracy work downwards to 'free', 'democratize', 'empower' and 'capacity-build' the subject. Democracy is no longer a means to an end but an end in itself as the process subsumes everything formerly external to it.  Process-thinking removes the subject-object, human-nature, state-society, public-private and inside-outside distinction of liberal modernity. In this way democracy expands without end. Resilience and adaption as the framework for democratic freedoms dictate a sensitivity to the outside and to the 'Other' — the greater openness and understanding and inclusion there is, the more democracy as an ethos of a self-rule and self-limitation and adaption can be inculcation.

Research Interests

  • Democracy and Distributive Agency
  • Shift from Spatial to Temporal Understandings of Conflict
  • Resilience, Agency and Subjectivity
  • New Materialism, Freedom and Necessity
  • Biopolitics and the Shift to the Social

Current Projects

  • Democracy and the Shift to the Social
  • Founding new journal Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses
  • Resistance, Visibility and 'Hidden' Agency
  • Posthumanism and New Materialism
  • Democracy, Empowerment and Capacity-Building


Since 08/2005 University of Westminster, UK
Department of Politics and International Relations
Professor of International Relations
02/2003-08/2005 University of Westminster, UK
Department of Politics and International Relations
Senior Lecturer
06/2002-02/2003 Brunel University, UK
School of Politics, American Studies and History
01/2002-07/2002 University of Nottingham, UK
Department of Politics
Visiting Lecturer
01/2000-03/2002 Leeds Metropolitan University, UK
Policy Research Institute
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
10/1995-10/1998 Leeds Metropolitan University, UK
International Social Policy Research Unit
PhD candidate


Chandler, David (2017): Peacebuilding: The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1997-2017, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Chandler, David, and Jon Coaffee (eds.) (2016): The Routledge Handbook of International Resilience, London: Routledge.

Chandler, David, and Julian Reid (2016): The Neoliberal Subject: Resilience, Adaptation and Vulnerability, London: Rowman & Littlefield.

Chandler, David (2014): Resilience: The Governance of Complexity, London: Routledge.

Chandler, David (2013): Freedom and Necessity in International Relations: Human-Centred Approaches to Security and Development, London: Zed Books

Chandler, David, and Timothy D. Sisk (eds.) (2013): Routledge Handbook of International Statebuilding , London: Routledge

Chandler, David, Susanna Campbell, and Meera Sabaratnam (eds.) (2011): A Liberal Peace?: The Problems and Practices of Peacebuilding, London: Zed Books

Chandler, David, and Nick Hynek (eds.) (2011): Critical Perspectives on Human Security: Rethinking Emancipation and Power in International Relations, London: Routledge

Chandler, David (2010): International Statebuilding: The Rise of Post-Liberal Governance, London: Routledge

Chandler, David (2009): Hollow Hegemony: Rethinking Global Politics, Power and Resistance, London: Pluto Press

Chandler, David (ed.) (2009): Statebuilding and Intervention: Policies, Practices and Paradigms, London: Routledge

Chandler, David, and Volker Heins (eds.) (2007): Rethinking Ethical Foreign Policy: Pitfalls, Possibilities and Paradoxes, London: Routledge

Chandler, David (2006): Empire in Denial: The Politics of State-Building, London: Pluto

Chandler, David (ed.) (2006): Peace without Politics? Ten Years of International State-Building in Bosnia, London: Routledge

Chandler, David, and Gideon Baker (eds.) (2005): Global Civil Society: Contested Futures, London: Routledge

Chandler, David (2004): Constructing Global Civil Society: Morality and Power in International Relations, London: Palgrave-Macmillan

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