Deutsche Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft

3. DVPW-Thementagung

Turning Point - Zeitenwende - in German IR? How we (should) respond to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

11 & 12 November 2022, University of Hamburg

While German politics has proclaimed a ‘turning point’ in reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, German political science is still processing. Therefore, this year’s Thementagung of the German Political Science Association (DVPW) is intended to trigger a targeted self-reflection of the discipline on the one hand – did the IB sleep through the war? – and to provide a stage for academic analyses of the war on the other.


    “The End or Turning Point for German IR? Limits and Possibilities for German IR in Light of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine”

    Host: Antje Wiener, University of Hamburg


    • Nicole Deitelhoff, PRIF / Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main
    • Gunther Hellmann, Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main
    • Xymena Kurowska, Central European University, Vienna
    • Carlo Masala, University of the Armed Federal Forces Munich
    • Siddharth Tripathi, University of Erfurt

    Screening and Q&A with the Director

    "The Earth is Blue as an Orange"

    As part of the conference, we show the documentary "The Earth is Blue as an Orange" by Iryna Tsilyk on Saturday, 12 November, followed by a Q&A session with the director. You can watch the trailer here.


    The current war in Ukraine came as a surprise to most observers - at least with regard to the scope of the invasion and the original ambitions of the Russian government. It also surprised (most) researchers in International Relations (IR) - in Germany probably even more than in other Western countries. The fact that in 2022’s Europe a great power could once again unleash a classic, expansive territorial conflict with massive military deployment and thus – at least in its own calculations - pursue rational goals, caught many ice cold.

    • Some argue that this is essentially due to the neglect of certain bodies of knowledge and theory (especially in the environment of the "realist" tradition), which, especially in Germany, have for a long time led a niche existence at best.
    • Others argue that the issues of war and peace have always been at the centre of the discipline of international relations and have only been de-emphasised in recent decades because other, no less important, challenges have become the focus of attention in the Global North.

    In the course of the ongoing warfare and in view of the attempts to end it through diplomatic interaction, the central role and range of social science IR theories has become particularly clear.

    Against this background, the question will be discussed whether and how the canon of IR theories is applicable and retrievable for the major questions of war and peace, both in the long term and in crisis situations. There is no doubt that current developments in Europe, including their global implications, pose the discipline with the question of whether or how IR research should and can respond to them.


    Our organising committee, consisting of scholars from various universities, has therefore decided to organise a conference on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We will discuss the empirical and theoretical consequences of the invasion and ultimately invite self-reflection in the discipline of International Relations. Whether and how we might need to rethink and research war and the use of military force in the 21st century will be among the core questions of the conference. A broad spectrum of submissions of papers and panels dealing with all questions of war and peace is therefore desired. This deliberately includes a reflexive and discipline-critical perspective on possible strengths or weaknesses of past research. Without wanting to narrow down the spectrum of possible submissions here, we could imagine such submissions on the following topics in particular:

    • To what extent has International Relations been able to bring its theoretical range into the societal and political debate so far? Do concepts and theories within the IR canon need re-sharpening and re-formulation? With which existing ideas may observable phenomena (the invasion itself, the defensive power of Ukraine, media reception of the war, etc.) be explained at the given moment, and with which are they seemingly incompatible?
    • How may critical theories, especially post-/decolonial and feminist theories, offer different perspectives on the war? To what extent is a self-reflexive critique of IR research in terms of structure and representation (North-South divide, patriarchal structures, etc.) useful, seeking to identify and improve flawed analyses?
    • Which ways out of the current situation can be identified, which are desirable? Which options for action and interaction are available to which actors? And how do different theoretical approaches answer these questions?

    Participants have to submit short discussion papers of 2,000 to 3,000 words prior to the conference. The deadline is the 4th of November.

    Organising Committee: Prof. Antje Wiener PhD, Prof. Dr. Gunther Hellmann, Prof. Dr. Nicole Deitelhoff und Prof. Dr. Carlo Masala, Dr. Maren Hofius, Jannis Kappelmann