Postcolonial Hierarchies

Conferences & Workshops


Conference „Peace, conflict, and security in times of existential crises: Critical, interdisciplinary, and public engagements“, Marburg

21-22 March 2024, University of Marburg

Dr. Tareq Sydiq and Sophie Falschebner put together a panel on „Postcolonial Hierarchies and the Dynamics of Crises and Insecurity“ for the joint conference of SFB/TRR 138 and APeCS network.

Postcolonial perspectives for the understanding of peace and conflict dynamics remain marginalized in dominant debates, despite increasing calls for their inclusion. This panel critically examines key terminologies within peace and conflict studies through a postcolonial lens, engaging with dynamics of crises and (in-)security. In order to historicize these phenomena, it brings contemporary postcolonial hierarchies into discussions of crises and (in-)security. The panel calls for a two-fold approach: asking how postcolonial hierarchies emanate(d) from and are perpetuated through crises, as well as how the dynamics of crises and insecurity are shaped by postcolonial hierarchies. This means not only to analyze conflict dynamics, but also to scrutinize how perceptions and discourses of crises, conflict and (in-)security are interlinked with postcolonial hierarchies. It does so through case studies both in the Global South and in the Global North, tracing colonial legacies throughout them. For the panel brings together papers historicizing crises and conflicts through a postcolonial perspective, tracing the evolvement of crises as well as the narratives surrounding them from the colonial to the postcolonial, and making visible the enduring effects of hierarchies rooted in colonialism. These papers further contribute to the deconstruction of dominant discourses on peace, conflict and security and bring to the fore perspectives, experiences and agency which are still often omitted in research and public engagement with these topics. The panel focuses on interdisciplinary case studies linking past and contemporary dynamics of crises, conflict and insecurity. We are seeking papers with empirically grounded contributions which focus on formerly or currently colonized contexts.

Abstract proposals of up to 300 words, accompanied by titles, names, bios of up to 100 words, and affiliation and contact details of authors should be sent to the convenors by the 2nd of October 2023. We expect to notify the selected participants by the 16th of October.

We also remind you that (limited) funding will be available to precarious scholars on a reimbursement of real costs basis. Also, for scholars from the Global South in need of a visa, the organisers can issue letters of invitation.



18 March 2023, Tunis

Susanne Buckley-Zistel and Anika Oettler chaired the panel „Memory  & Justice.  Practices  and  Gender  Relations  of  Memory  and Justice in Post-Conflict Societies of the Maghreb and Mashreq Regions“ at the Merian Center for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM) conference entitled „Imagining Futures – Dealing with Disparities“ at the University of Tunis.

–  Faouzia Zeraoulia (University of Jijel, Algeria): Empowering reconciliation and sustainable peace in post-conflict societies in the MENA region: Silence and memorialization processes

–  Selima Kebaïli (University of Lausanne, Switzerland): Genre, violence et récit national: le cas d’un mémorial dédié aux femmes victimes de la dictature en Tunisie post-révolution.

–  Hayet Rouibah (University of Jijel, Algeria): Mémoire et guerre d’indépendance en Algérie : approche du genre

–  Khaled Kchir (University of Tunis, Tunisia): Témoignage à propos de l’élaboration de la loi sur la justice transitionnelle en Tunisie 2012-2013

MIASA Midterm Conference: Sustainable Governance in a Time of Global Flux: Issues, Concepts and Future Directions

19-21 September 2023 

ISSER Conference Center, University of Ghana

Peace and conflict studies rely largely upon theories and practices in the remit of the predominant script of liberal peace. Yet the latter’s strong emphasis on liberal democratic institutions, market liberalization, and the predominant role of external actors vis-á-vis local ones have raised significant critiques in both academic and practitioner’s spheres. Some of the flaws of liberal peacebuilding lie in its insufficient, and perhaps inadequate engagement, with the specific historical trajectories of conflicts and their embeddedness in global processes. Instead of fostering conflict transformation, the result of peacebuilding-oriented interventions has often been the reproduction of colonial legacies and exclusionary structures prompting the (re)production of violence. This panel examines different practices of peacebuilding in conflict-affected regions, asking how a thorough understanding of the past and global interconnections can provide a more accurate understanding of what sustainable peace and conflict management in the African context would entail. This includes issues regarding the epistemic and operational rationale of peacebuilding practices as well as the historical trajectories and multi-scalar and transnational interconnections of violent conflict.

Chair: Andreas Mehler (University of Freiburg, Germany)


  • Emma Birikorang (Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Training Centre, Ghana)
  • Antonia Witt (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, Germany)
  • Emery Mudinga (Angaza Institute, Democratic Republic of Congo)
  • Adam Sandor (University of Bayreuth, Germany)
Programme and zoom link for virtual participation available online.

Annual European International Studies Conference 2023, Potsdam

5-9 September 2023, University of Potsdam

The Network’s members, Prof. Susanne Buckley-Zistel and Dr. Siddharth Tripathi put together a panel on “Postcolonial Hierachies of Peace and Conflict”.

The panel brings together multidisciplinary researchers from the network Postcolonial Hierarchies of Peace and Conflict. It investigates how historically sedimented postcolonial hierarchies are reflected in contemporary conflict dynamics and what implications this has for
sustainable conflict transformation and peacebuilding in the future. It draws on historical perspectives on the emergence of violent conflicts as well as postcolonial research perspectives on methods and theories of peace and conflict studies. Contributions will theoretically and empirically explore the manifestation of colonial legacies and postcolonial hierarchies in contemporary conflict contexts, and how they may perpetuate cycles of violence and instability. The panel brings together scholars from the fields of international relations, history, sociology and political science to examine how postcolonial hierarchies continue to shape the world today and
how they can be challenged and transformed.

The following questions are central: What role do historically rooted postcolonial hierarchies play in contemporary conflicts? How are
postcolonial hierarchies challenged around the world? To what extent do postcolonial hierarchies persist in contemporary theories and practices of violence containment, peacebuilding and conflict transformation? How can these be overcome with the goal of sustainable peace? How do postcolonial hierarchies manifest themselves in epistemologies and knowledge production in peace and conflict studies? How can peace and conflict research contribute to a transformation of such hierarchies?

Panel presentation titles and presenters:

  • ‚From Epistemic Hierarchies to Knowledge(s) in Dialogue? Decolonial Approaches to Peace and Conflict Studies.‘ Fabricio Rodríguez, Arnold Bergstraesser Institute Freiburg;
  • ‚The Promise and Perils of Mainstreaming Intersectionality in Transitional Justice. A Feminist and Decolonial Perspective.‘ Juliana González Villamizar, Instituto Colombo-Alemán para la Paz – CAPAZ Colombia;
  • ‚International Legal Discourse as Political Historiography – Narrating Political Transitions and Possibilities at the Post-colonial Juncture.‘ Paul Witzenhausen & Anna Lena Goll, University of Erfurt;
  • ‚African Agency and Zombified Security Cooperation in West Africa.‘ Jana Hönke & Adam Sandor, University of Bayreuth;
  • ‚Examining Post-Colonial memory politics in AGLR violent conflicts.‘ David Mwambari, KU Leuve.

10th European Workshops in International Studies (EWIS 2023)

12 – 14 July 2023, University of Amsterdam 

Organizers: Anna Lena Goll & Siddharth Tripathi (University of Erfurt, BMBF-Network Postcolonial Hierarchies)

Hierarchies, broadly understood as systems of stratification “through which actors are organized into vertical relations of super- and subordination” (Mattern & Zarakol, 2016: 624), are increasingly moving to the centre of inquiries in International Relations (IR). The recent surge of hierarchy-centred approaches “across the spectrum of theoretical and methodological commitments” marks a departure from anarchy-centred theorisations in IR towards more global perspectives on systemic power asymmetries (ibid.). In this context, postcolonial hierarchies and their violent reverberations in contemporary world politics have gradually moved to the forefront of scholarly attention. Building upon post- and decolonial approaches, scholars have thus begun to revisit the central categories, concepts, and premises of their disciplines.

As postcolonial perspectives increasingly gained momentum in the study of world politics, a growing body of critical literature emerged in domains such as IR Theory (Agathangelou & Ling, 2004; Bilgin, 2010; Sabaratnam, 2020); Security Studies (Barkawi & Laffey, 2006; Hönke & Müller, 2012); Peace and Conflict Studies (Barkawi, 2016; Sabaratnam, 2013); and International Law (Anghie, 2006; Chimni, 2013). Yet, our understanding of the dynamics of violence emanating from the enduring effects of colonial relationships of power remains limited. Taking up the invitation to “rethink the interplay of war and peace, conflict and cooperation”, this workshop advances a critical and cross-disciplinary engagement with the nature and role of the global stratifications of power engendered by the persistence of colonialism’s relational structures. We are interested in a wide range of contributions examining the continuities and ruptures of colonial power asymmetries within various sites of peace and conflict, as well as inquiries geared towards unearthing their embeddedness in international institutions, norms, practices, and modes of knowledge production. 

The workshop included conceptual engagements with the notion of postcolonial hierarchies, empirical investigations of their functioning across diverse localities and institutional settings, as well as reflections on methodological opportunities and challenges in their study. This setting aligned its multifarious engagements with the notion of postcolonial hierarchies with the recent calls to provincialise Eurocentric knowledge (Chakrabarty, 2000) and foreground the ‘worldliness of local practice’ (Hönke & Müller, 2012) in International Studies.

Annual Memory Studies Association Conference 2023, Newcastle, UK

6 July 2023, University of Newcastle 

The Network’s members, Prof. Susanne Buckley-Zistel and Dr. Selbi Durdiyeva put together a panel for the stream on „Coloniality and Decolonising of Memory.“ 

The panel examined how different discourses of memory configure in authoritarian, conflict-torn, and post-conflict societies. Memory manifests and crystalises itself in numerous forms. We examined the uses of memory of colonial past, in cases: (1) when a narrative of colonial past is used as a foundation of resistance towards the settler-coloniser, (2) when a discourse of the imperialist past is used to launch an aggressive war with the aim to return the past glory, (3) when hegemonic actors instrumentalise memory to justify present-day discriminatory policies by drawing on the memory discourses imposed by colonial powers, (4) when the erasure of the memory of colonial displacement is used for state-building and later, border regulation purposes. Keeping different forms of how memory manifests itself in mind, we attempted to imagine what would decolonising memory discourses mean in difficult contexts.

We examined the issues relating to memory and unaddressed colonial past, and particularly, how the present colonial or imperialist memory narratives (or nostalgia for the lost empire) lead to the repetition of colonial violence in more contemporary forms, in cases such as Russia’s aggression of Ukraine, Turkey’s Kurdish conflict, Syria’s forced displacement, and government’s instrumentalization of LGBTQ+ narratives on the African continent. The panel also examines whether postcolonial historical commissions, when presented as transitional justice and memorialisation paradigm, are well-equipped to deal with colonial violence.

Colonial legacies, enshrined in the logic of state-building in the cases examined, contribute to perpetuating of conflict, cycles of forced displacement and the use of colonial discourse to streamline discriminatory policies. At the same time, we see that the meagre existent mechanisms of working through the colonial past as postcolonial historical commissions fail to deliver what they promise in the so-called ‚established democracies.‘ The panel aimed to investigate how the memory of the colonial past affects present politics and whether the tools of memorialisation allow working through the difficult past to enable society to move forward.

Annual Conference 2023 „Decolonizing Swiss Research Collaborations“ 

Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE), Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT).

4 May 2023, Online Workshop Series.

More and more institutions acknowledge the need to decolonize research partnerships, not least in the social sciences. An accompanying concern is often that of promoting “knowledge transfers” between academic and non-academic circles. What, then, does it mean, and what does it take, to combine decolonizing research practices with legitimate demands to communicate scientific knowledge with non-academic audiences (and vice versa)?

This workshop was organized by the network “Postcolonial Hierarchies in Peace and Conflict”, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Members of the network, including senior researchers and students from the Global South and from the Global North participated as co-organizers.

The workshop unfolded in 4 steps. After an interactive introduction [10 min], we (1) presented the concept of “knowledge(s) in dialogue” as an alternative to ‘knowledge transfers’ [10 min]. Next, (2) we presented two specific formats of dialogic exchange, including (2.1) international think labs and (2.2) online videos in different formats [20 min].  Then, (3) we moved to „deep-dive“ sessions (moderated by members of the network) and discussed four challenges in the (co-)production and communication of research from a decolonial stance. These included (3.1) the acknowledgement of structural hierarchies in academic research as a point of departure, (3.2) the commitment to reflexivity and transparency regarding unequal positionalities in academia, (3.3) the discussion of risks and benefits for those involved, (3.4) the creation of a common purpose towards the emancipation of science itself [30 min]. Finally, (4) we moved towards a moderated discussion on how to tackle these and other challenges [40 min].

Participants from the network:

54. Kolloquium der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung AFK

30. March- 1. April 2023

Evangelische Akademie Villigst, Berlin-Spandau

Critical perspectives on peace and conflict have called into question the conventional association of violence with war and the subsequent emphasis on wartime violence, pointing out the relevance of structural, symbolic and indirect forms of violence, as well as everyday violence that escapes the traditional definition of war. Despite this, most of the theories and interventions in the field of peace and conflict continue to focus on violence in war and postwar contexts. Against this background, this panel brings together scholars from different disciplines and regional foci to reflect on the complexity and multiple manifestations of violence beyond war and the effects of its marginalization on knowledge production and peacebuilding practices.


  • Claudia Brunner, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
  • Alke Jenss, Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institut (ABI), Freiburg / Hierarchies
  • Fabricio Rodríguez, Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institut (ABI), Freiburg / Hierarchies
  • Siddharth Tripathi, Universität Erfurt / Hierarchies

Moderation  & Organization: Viviana García Pinzón, Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institut (ABI), Freiburg & GIGA Institut für Lateinamerika-Studien, Hamburg, Postcolonial Hierarchies in Peace and Conflict (Hierarchies)

2 February 2023, University of Leipzig and online.

Susanne Buckley-Zisteland Teresa Koloma Beck together with the authors Rose Jaji, Sara Imani and Karina Theurer launched the Forum of the journal ZeFKo ‚Decolonize yourselves! Critical Reflections on Peace and Conflict Studies‘. The event was organised by Solveig Richter, Timothy Williams and Kirsty Campbell from ZeFKo.

In recent years, the presence of the colonial and imperial past has become an ever more important subject of public debates in Germany. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the topic also gains in importance in peace and conflict studies, an area of research, whose focus is frequently on conflicts that take place outside of or at the peripheries of Europe, but are closely intertwined with European history. Against this backdrop, the forum sheds light on some current debates which address challenges of the postcolonial present, especially in the German context. Please see here for open access to the journal (in German).


Bayreuther Friedensgespräche (Bayreuth Peace Talks)
25 October 2022, University of Bayreuth.

War, climate change, pandemic, supply chains, energy prices – there seems to be just crisis upon crisis in contemporary news. Their disruptions entail conflicts over resources, struggles for power, debates on conflict resolution strategies, and resistance for and against social change.

The participants of the roundtable discussed how research focusing on peace and conflict can address these challenges. Can research help in understanding their causes and dynamics? Which “conflicts” get attention and what role do researchers and academic context play in this? Can scholars develop and promote strategies of conflict resolution – and should this even be a goal of academic research?

To address these questions, the participants highlighted various conflicts of our times. They illustrated approaches from political science, history, and economics, and critically discuss the opportunities and limitations of peace and conflict studies.

Roundtable participants

  • Dr. Julia Eichenberg (History)
  • PD Dr. Florian Kühn (Political Science/International Relations)
  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Ouma (Economic Geography)


  • Prof. Dr. Jana Hönke (Sociology) 


  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible (President of the University of Bayreuth)

VAD Conference 2022 „Africa-Europe: Reciprocal Perspectives.“

8 June 2022, Africa Centre for Transregional Research (ACT) of the University of Freiburg. 

The roundtable and launch event focused on the topic “Global hierarchies & reciprocity in academic knowledge production –A decolonial approach to peace & conflict studies”. In search for inspiration and collaborative networks, Hierarchies invited scholars from the field of peace & conflict studies, including scholars from the Bukavu Series, a cross-institutional initiative engaging with the ethical and practical implications of conducting research against the largely asymmetrical landscape of academic knowledge production.

This video documentation presents key insights from the project launch, featuring the  participants of the roundtable:

  • Azza Mustafa Ahmed (HUMA -Institute for Humanities in Africa, UCT) 
  • Emery Mushagalusa Mudinga (Angaza Institute -ISDR & Bukavu Series)
  • Josaphat Musamba (Ghent University & Bukavu Series)
  • Koen Vlassenroot (Ghent University & Bukavu Series)
  • Jana Hönke (University of Bayreuth & Hierarchies)
  • Moderator: Fabricio Rodríguez (ABI Freiburg & Hierarchies).