Interview: Jutta Allmendinger on her Career and Gender Inequality

On the International Women´s Day, our podcast series’ host Lynda Iroulo interviews Prof. Dr. h.c. Jutta Allmendinger, Ph.D., President of the WZB. Listen in, as we discuss her journey to the presidency, the driving factors of gender inequality, and her vision for the WZB.

Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

Iroulo: You became a professor of Sociology at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Have you always wanted to be in academia?

Allmendinger: Most certainly not. Up until the age of fifteen, I wanted to become an architect like my father. Then I found out that the study of architecture is really boring because you only have to draw lines but not houses. So, I started to study Sociology and I was immediately into it.

Iroulo: What was your research focus then and how has it changed over time?

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Guns n’ Roses

This is a co-authored blog post, written by Thurid Bahr, Jelena Cupać, İrem Ebetürk, Lynda Iroulo, Mitja Sienknecht, Anam Soomro

International Women’s Day is a celebration of women fighting for their rights. This fight started in the late 18th century with political and legal issues being the main items on the agenda and it gained traction in the 19th and 20th. Since then, women have accomplished a lot in all spheres of life, including academia. Just like men could do for centuries, women can now make significant contributions to scientific knowledge. The more women joined academia, the more they theorized about their everyday experiences, and the more everybody became aware of the inequalities they were facing. Women have been the agents of and the force for change. It was them who insisted to take such concepts as patriarchy, gender bias, and positive discrimination seriously and address them in public discourse and policies. Many challenges, however, still remain. This is why we have come together to write this blog post on women in academia reflecting different perspectives. We claim neither to present the full picture nor to represent the correct perspective. We want to raise some issues relevant to our experiences. Let us walk you through these with some music in the background:

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Is Europe’s democracy problem spiraling out of control?

© Photo by Patrick McManaman on Unsplash

The EU is currently marked by democracy problems at both the community and the member state levels. In the past decades, European decision-making authority has grown exponentially in breadth and depth without providing for appropriate mechanisms of democratic (input) legitimation. This is referred to as the EU’s democratic deficit. On the other hand, there has been a widespread surge of nationalist populism in the member states that has an authoritarian inclination. In some cases, such as Hungary and Poland, they have started to effectively undermine the domestic institutions of liberal democracy. I argue that these two developments are causally linked and mutually reinforcing, fueling a vicious cycle of increasingly authoritarian rule at the national as well as the supranational level.

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Interview: Jingdong Yuan on China in the Global Order and German Building Isolation

In the fourth episode of our interview series, Lynda Iroulo talks to Jingdong Yuan, Associate Professor in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. Listen in, as Yuan gives insight into his thoughts about the WZB, his research on the political economy of dual use-technology, studying China in the global order, and his appreciation for Berlin’s well-insulated apartments.

Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

Iroulo: What brings you to the WZB and for how long will you be here?

Yuan: I heard about the WZB from one of my colleagues, Professor John Keane, who runs the Sydney Democracy Network. He has very close ties with the WZB, and we have this fellowship where one or two faculty members every year get selected to be a visiting fellow to the WZB and spend a couple of months and do research. It triggered my interest, and I took a look at what the WZB does, and I was quite surprised; this is a vast operation, a few hundred scholars from all over the world working on social sciences. In the past, I tended to go to places that focused on area studies, like Asian studies or China studies, but this is more interdisciplinary with social sciences, and maybe history and humanities as well. I wanted to be part of this fascinating and exciting organization. In particular, the Global Governance unit, which has some sub-research areas that fit my research interest. That is why I applied, and I am very lucky to be selected. Now I am here, spending eight weeks, so, roughly two months.

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Can a Populist be the Leader of the Free World?

Populism and the liberal international order don’t mix well: The more populism there is, the less liberal the international order appears to become. Moreover, judging by the year-long presidency of Donald Trump, the liberal international order seems to be in particular danger if the most powerful state in the system catches the populist bug. Why is this so? Are populism and the liberal world order fundamentally incompatible? Can a populist be a leader of the free world?

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Interview: Mervyn Frost on Practice Theory and unexpectedly teaching IR

In this episode, Lynda Iroulo talks to Mervyn Frost, Professor of International Relations at the Department of War Studies, King´s College London. If you want to find out more about the debates and authors in International Relations (IR) that influenced Mervyn´s career most, his first unexpected teaching experience and why he thinks traffic in Berlin is much more civilized than in London, we’ve got your back!

Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

Iroulo: What brought you to the WZB and for how long will you be here?

Frost: Well, I used to be a Professor at the University of Kent, and I came here in 1999 for the first time. Professor Dieter Rucht had organized a seminar on global citizenship, and I remember being very impressed with the institution and of course with Berlin. I have always had in mind that I would like to spend a sabbatical leave here and now I am doing exactly that. So, that is kind of the background of it, but as you said in your introduction, I have been interested in ethics in IR for many years now, I think it is over 40 years. The Global Governance Unit has got an interest, not only in the technicalities of Governance, but also in the normative aspect and the ethical aspect, so I thought this would be a nice home for me to work with sympathetic scholars who are all working in the same field.

Iroulo: What will you be working on during your stay at the WZB?

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Did Robert Keohane just become a neo-Gramscian and no-one noticed?

Thomas Cole – The Course of Empire Destruction (1836)

In a recent article in Foreign Affairs (‘The Liberal Order is Rigged’), Jeff Colgan and Robert Keohane have highlighted some shortcomings of the liberal international order. They point out that not everybody has been a winner from economic globalization, and they are worried about the emergence of ‘populism’ and the threat that this may pose to institutions such as the United Nations, European Union, World Trade Organization, and NATO.

Episodes of introspection and self-doubt amongst many scholars and policy makers have been common since Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. What is interesting about this one in particular is that it comes from one of the foremost scholars in the field of International Relations, who is in large part the originator of the liberal institutionalist approach to international politics.

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The Rise of Killer Robots: Should machines be allowed to kill us?

© 2015 Russell Christian for Human Rights Watch

For the past four years, diplomats, academic experts, and NGO representatives have come together for a number of meetings in Geneva to discuss regulating the so-called Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. While drones have become a normal part of military operations, LAWS, or as those critical of them like to call them, killer robots, are still in a stage of early development. What makes them special is that they are capable of navigating through air space searching for potential targets, and once they have found them, they can use their weapons to select them and fire on them, all on their own. Put bluntly, these are machines that – once deployed – can kill humans on their own without human interference. While the use of drones – especially in so-called targeted killing operations – already raise a myriad of legal, ethical, and technical questions (which I discuss in some more detail here), LAWS add an additional layer of complexity, leading to three problems when it comes to granting them the agency to kill: the laws of war and the issue of emotions, responsibility, and de-humanization.

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Interview: Kenneth Abbott on Researching IR and Living in Berlin

In the second episode of our new interview series, host Lynda Iroulo is interviewing Kenneth W. Abbott, visiting researcher at the WZB and Professor of Law at Arizona State University in Phoenix. Topics include the research projects he is involved with at the WZB, his interests and experiences in researching IR, and living and working in Berlin. 

Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

Iroulo: What will you be working on during your time at the WZB? 

Abbott: Well, I already have three or four ongoing projects of my own, but I would also really like to spend more time with the researchers at the WZB and work on the projects taking place here. So far, I have been involved with a couple of the ongoing projects in the Global Governance unit. One project I have engaged with is the ‘norm interface research project’, which overlaps some of my work. In relation to that, one of the issues we are concerned with is the different ways in which governors – that is, whoever is doing governance, internationally or domestically – govern indirectly.

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My Fury about Trump’s Fire

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Shortly before Christmas, I sent the corrected proofs for my new book back to my publisher. My English editor quipped that we should send the book to Donald Trump so he can read it. In view of the recently leaked daily reading performance of the President, I immediately calculated that, taking into account the summer breaks, he would probably finish it shortly before Christmas 2019. However, shortly after reading the December 2017 “National Security Strategy of the United States of America (NSS)” with the President’s preface, I suspected that he had already read at least the first chapter of my book.

This first chapter deals with the normative foundation of the global political system. Accordingly, one can speak of a global political system if three conditions are met:

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