While global cooperation research is often seen as something positive and normatively desirable, for example to deal with pressing issues such as climate change or human rights violations, this optimistic view does not necessarily extend to cooperation per se. The aim of this Quarterly Magazine Special Issue is to continue a reflection on the dark sides of cooperation, following-up on the critical reflections on the violence inherent in global migration governance in the last Quarterly Magazine. This Special Issue brings together theoretical and empirical contributions to discuss the moral value of cooperation when it leads to harmful consequences for specific groups, society and/or humanity.
As the editors, Frank Gadinger and Philip Liste, state in their introductory contribution to this Special Issue, inquiring about the moral value of cooperation raises important questions of 'who cooperates for what purposes and to whose benefit'. It also invites a critical investigation of the normative infrastructures in the transnational constellation that may allow for or foster practices of cooperation prone to the ‘dark side’.
What constitutes the ‘dark side’ of global cooperation can, as demonstrated by the contributions in this Special Issue, vary widely. Gadinger and Liste, in their introduction, discuss among other aspects the downsides of complex forms of polycentric governance. Carolina Aguerre explores how socio-technical infrastructures in the internet generate digital spaces for harmful disinformation. Christian Scheper focusses on the dark sides of transnational cooperation for social and ecological change in Supply chains. Philip Liste analyses how the 'Red Lights' at the boundary between legality and illegality are switched off by professional practices of tax evasion that at the same time maintain a normative framework for dark finance. Nina Schneider provides evidence of global cooperation on the 'Old Right' studying cases of use and abuse of Gobineau’s ‘race theory’ in the Americas. Dumebi Obute reflects on toxic practices of state violence and environmental pollution in the excavation of crude oil in the Niger Delta.
Taken together, these essays invite us to critically reflect on the underlying positive assumptions that are often connected to global cooperation and point towards future research agendas for a better understanding of how the ‘bright’ and ‘dark’ sides of global cooperation can be intertwined in multiple ways.
We wish you a good read!
Sigrid Quack is the Managing Director of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21) and Professor of Sociology at the University of Duisburg-Essen. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.