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Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


Jana Hönke

Jana Hönke
Dr Jana Hönke
Honorary Fellow
Research Interests
Business and security, African politics, contentious politics, critical security studies, Resource politics, Non-state actors, practice theories, Postcolonialism, Transnational politics, Security and development interventions, political geographies of infrastructure


Jana Hönke is a Honorary Fellow with PIR/SPS. She is also an Assistant Professor and Rosalind Franklin Fellow in International Relations at the University of Groningen (link). Her research is concerned with how local and transnational security are interlinked and how they are thought of, practiced and contested. Her current work examines how authority and political topographies transform by  studying the contested security arrangments related to multinational companies and transport infrastructures in contexts of fragility.  Another project revolves around the global making of policing. She has also done research on counterterrorism, state building and development interventions. Theoretically she is interested in how knowledge and everyday practices travel and shape how security is governed, for whom and to what effect, across borders. How do practice approaches, sociological theories and political anthropology help us to understand transnational security practices and their outcomes? While doing multi-sited fieldwork, much of her work is linked to Sub-Saharan Africa with research conducted in South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Tanzania and Guinea.


Politics of the Corporation, Workshop SOAS 7 May 2016

Infrastructure and Resource Extraction, DIIS Copenhagen 27 April 2016

Workshop Transnationalising Clientelism. External Governance and Informality, 19-20 June 2015, at Research Centre SFB700, Freie Universität Berlin.

#BritainAfrica50: Fair Extraction, Fair Trade, Fair Play? - poscast of event at Scottish Parliament. See the related speakers series, organised by the BISA Africa and International Studies Working Group.

Current Research Projects

New Political Geographies of Infrastructures? More here.

An ongoing research project looks at contentious politics around sites of extraction. It turns the attention from international policies and companies’ perceptions and practices to those of the people who live in the vicinity of key sites of global production and trade. How do political elites, marginalized population, state and commercial security providers, INGOs and local representatives of international organizations negotiate and contest security outcomes? The project invetigates cases in Katanga and South Kivu (DRC), Basse Côte and Haute Guinea (Guinea), Lake Zone (Tanzania), and the West Rand and Rustenburg area (South Africa).

A collaborative project with Markus-Michael Müller (Latin American Studies Institute; Freie Universität Berlin) revolves around the global making of security institutions and practices. It brings together scholars with expertise in different regions to a)  explore how postcolonial theories inform ‘decolonised’ empirical research strategies in Security Studies; and b) present and theorise the -often neglected - role of non-western countries in the making of contemporary security institutions and practices. See our special issue Governing (In)Security in a Postcolonial World in Security Dialogue, our Global Making of Policing book in the Routlegde Intervention series, and a workshop we held in Berlin.

Past projects:

The quality of local governance by multinational companies. For further information please click here.

Transnational Companies and Security Governance: Hybrid Practices in a Postcolonial World. This project  analysed how security is thought of and done around multinaltional companies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Looking at the transnational node of actors and ambiguous practices, it draws out the hybrid regime of securiy practices that prevail across different contexts. Using cases from South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the late 19th and 21st century, Transnational Companies and Security Governance demonstrates how contradictory collective meaning systems structure the perceptions and choices of company managers, private security officers, NGO collaborators and others. As a result, social investment in communities and human rights training for security forces coexist with the violence of fortress protection and stability-oriented clientele practice and arrangements of indirect rule. The book argues that such hybrid and violent policing is not the result of an encounter of a supposedly peaceful, liberal global with a local.  Instead, it is transnationally co-constituted. Violence is part and parcel of liberal transnational governance. This suggests a critical reflection of the 'business for peace' agenda promoted in global governance.


Please find the open access version of most publications here.

Books and Edited Volumes


Book chapters

Working papers and other publications

  • Does the Business for Peace agenda actually work? OpEd for the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog, 29 September 2014.
  • Hönke, Jana and Tanja A. Börzel 2013. Restraint of Statehood and the Quality of Governance by Multinational Companies in Sub-Saharan Africa, SFB Working Papers Series Nr. 65, DFG Sonderforschungsbereich 700, Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.
  • Hönke, Jana, with Esther Thomas 2012. Governance for Whom? Capturing the inclusiveness and unintended effects of governance, SFB Working Papers Series Nr. 31, DFG Sonderforschungsbereich 700, Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.
  • Börzel, Tanja A. and Hönke, Jana 2011 . From Compliance to Practice. Mining Companies and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo, SFB Working Paper N° 25, Berlin.
  • Hönke, Jana 2010. Transnational pockets of territoriality. Topographies of security governance and extraction in Katanga/DRC, Working Paper Series Critical Junctures of Globalisation, Graduate Centre Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Leipzig.
  • Hönke, Jana 2005. Fragile Staatlichkeit und der Wandel der Afrikapolitik nach 1990 [Fragile Statehood and Changing Africa Policies after 1990] , University of Leipzig Papers on Africa N° 77, Leipzig.

Selected Workshops and Panels organised

  • New political topographies? Economic Infrastructures and the Transnational Politics of Scale, Panel with Brenda Chalfin, ECAS Conference 2015, Paris.
  • The Truly Global Making of Policing, panel organised at the BISA conference,  2014, Dublin (with M.-M. Müller).
  • Roundtable Doing IR Research in a Postcolonial World: Worlding, Social Practice and Ethnography (with Markus Michael-Müller, Pinar Bilgin, Rita Abrahamsen and Desmond Arias)
  • Topographies of Rule Panel; We Tried but They Failed – Critical Perspectives on Interventionism in Africa Panel (with Jan Bachmann), European Conference of African Studies, 2009, University of Leipzig.
  • Workshop "Governing Security and Making Space" with Clifford Shearing, Christine Hentschel and the  Graduate School “Critical Junctures of Globalization”, University of  Leipzig at Research Centre SFB 700, FU Berlin, 2008, Berlin.