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Waves in Kiribati (visual from www.climate.gov.ki)

Apparent 'Waves' as a Challenge for Serious Cooperation Research

19.10.2016 Waves are 'en vogue'. There is seemingly less talk about 'waves of refugees' in Turkey or Jordan, but therefore more so - wherever - in Europe. However migration, this historic, social and cognitive complex exchange process never happens only in one way, hence the metaphor of a wave does obscure more than elucidate. Observers of latest political developments in globalization recently identified an additional wave, a 'wave of post-fact politics' (Christian Schwägerl). Its protagonists are the spokespersons of those numerous re-nationalization movements in Europe and elsewhere, displaying ostensible anti-democratic positions.

A 'Crisis of liberal narratives' is diagnosed, in which perceived facts claim legitimacy, beyond any fact-checking because the confirmation of those meanings seems dispensable.

Demagogues and bullshitter (Harry Frankfurter) aim at implementing a mass impact, supported  by social media in real time, trading their positions like a permanent IPO at the stock exchange of everyday politics.  In this case 'mass climate index' substitutes real value analysis and provides the narrative of the day. Future scenarios of science have a distinctively different pretence. But what prevents those possibilities, ascertained in complex analytical processes, from being instrumentalized and fizzled out?

This more and more confrontational constellation (of perceived waves) constitutes a challenge for cooperation research with respect to its standards of thoroughness and  transparency of scientific work and also for the way we are reflecting on the obstacles and support of this highly topical while still young field of research.

Markus Böckenförde, Scientific Director of the Centre, invited 24 fellows - approximately our 2015 'cohort' - to deal with the current situation and to contribute on notions of 'migration'. These articles, edited together with Nadja Krupke und Philipp Michaelis, densely impart the multiple yet ambivalent aspects of current migration research. Migration, as it stands, by way of humans always transports artefacts: social and cultural habits, convictions and networks, professional skills, business models, research strategies. Therefore this is no one way street. (1)

The analysis of implications of 'political narratives' developed under the guidance of Frank Gadinger into a promising field of research at the Centre. That investigation of topical political narratives (Ferguson, US primaries, Islamic State, Fortress Europe), developed alongside a methodological framework from 'political practice' theory, points to the attention for interpretive dominance and media presence, where new media partly is shifting the spheres of awareness and influence. Some contributions in a new volume of the research group nevertheless deal with the US-American blockbuster film. Political narratives in the mass medium film always aim at a sort of historiography 'ad populum'. Political narratives are, so to speak, 'trans-factual', 'From Fact to Fiction'. (2)

Whereas the European Union can be seen as the most prominent attempt of present times, to integrate national interests in a democratically formed, multilaterally constructed political cooperation, this project is contested at present with different grades of vehemence. Claus Leggewie has undertaken the task to carefully examine three protagonists of a decided anti-democratic, anti-European fanaticism by way of a thoroughly examination of their statements and readings: the 'Identitarian' Anders Breivik, the 'Eurasian' Aleksandr Dugin and 'Dschihadist' Abu Musab al-Suri. Leggewie refers to 'real dangers' and sees his essay as a contribution to 'opponent research'. According to him, these positions constitute, with claimed reference to the respective traditions, explicitly formulated strategies, one could also say: declarations of war, aiming at the replacement of a liberal-democratic Europe, Leggewie calls it 'exterministic unreason'.

A basic argument for cooperation research states that the dangers for the global ecosystem - and hence for the human species - will only be met by way of globally concerted action. Since the Climate Conference in Paris (COP21) at the latest it becomes visible that new structures and procedures of bi- and multilateral action are to be realized. Just the climate (stupid) may direct our awareness through certain perceptions and perceived waves towards the - urgency of - facts again. 

(1)
A Multi-Disciplinary Mosaic: Reflections on Global Cooperation and Migration
Markus Böckenförde, Nadja Krupke, and Philipp Michaelis (eds.)
Global Dialogues 13, Duisburg 2016

(2)
Political Storytelling: From Fact to Fiction
Frank Gadinger, Martina Kopf, Aysem Mert, and Christopher Smith (eds.)
Global Dialogues 12, Duisburg 2016

(3)
Claus Leggewie
Die Anti-Europäer. Breivik, Dugin, al-Suri & Co.
Berlin (Suhrkamp) 2016

Martin Wolf
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