Post Doc Projekte

Multireligious Utopias? Youth, Secularization and Islamic Education Across the Western Indian Ocean World

(working title) / ‘Generation Absent: Youth Identity and Belonging in the “Zanzibar Diaspora”’

Dr. Franziska Fay

Im Zentrum des komparativen, ethnographischen Forschungsprojekts, dessen zugleich mehrheitlich muslimische und multireligiöse, urbane Forschungsfelder in Sansibar Stadt (Tansania), Mombasa (Kenia) und Muskat (Oman) liegen, stand die Frage nach den Bedingungen eines multireligiösen Zusammenlebens in Zeiten abnehmender Toleranz hinsichtlich religiöser Vielfalt. Die Untersuchung ‚multireligiöser Utopien‘ ermöglicht ein Hinterfragen der Qualitäten und Merkmale einer Gesellschaftsidee der ‚Moderne‘, die sich durch die positive Hervorhebung inner- und inter-religiöser Heterogenität auszeichnet. Interreligiöse Zentren, die mit Projektansätzen versuchen Kinder und Jugendlichen verschiedener Glaubensrichtungen zusammen zu bringen, waren bezüglich des Erkenntnisinteresses des Projekts zentrale Orientierungspunkte.
Ab 2020 fand die Fortführung des Postdoc-Projekts unter dem Titel „Generation Absent: Youth Identity and Belonging in the “Zanzibar Diaspora”’ statt. Das Habilitationsprojekt, dass sich aus den Erkenntnissen während der Feldforschungsphasen herausgebildet hat, fokussierte dann zentral die zeitgenössischen translokalen Identitätskonstruktionen junger Menschen in der sogenannten ‚Zanzibar Diaspora‘ (Sansibari-Omanis und Omani-Sansibaris), zu denen religiöse Zuschreibungsprozesse als fester Bestandteil gehören. Methodologisch stützte sich das Projekt, auch aufgrund der Corona-bedingten Änderung der Forschungslage, sowohl auf ethnographische Forschungsmethoden wie Interviews und Beobachtungen, jedoch ebenfalls auf eine dichte Analyse sozialer Medienräume.


Fay, Franziska: Ordinary Childhoods, Islam and the Everyday in Zanzibar. Journal of the British Academy [Special Issue: Searching for the Everyday in African Childhoods] (in preparation)

Fay, Franziska: Blending Belongings: Young Swahili-speaking Omanis and the Postdiaspora in Contemporary Oman. Arabian Humanities, Vol 15 [Special Issue: Oman Over Times: A Nation from the Nahda to the Oman Vision 2040] (under review)

Fay, Franziska: Living with Absence: Waiting Youth, Belonging, and the Contemporary ‘Zanzibar Diaspora’. Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies - Special Issue, Edited by Walker, Iain and Martin Slama. (forthcoming)


“Waswahili (Vijana) wa Oman na Dhana ya ‘Zanzibar Diaspora’”, Baraza la Kiswahili la Berlin (BALAKI-BE), ZMO (online) (2020)

“After Waithood? Contemporary Approaches to Research with Youth Across ‘Muslim Worlds’.” Organiser, International Workshop, Research Centre Normative Orders, Goethe University Frankfurt (2020)

“Youth Identity and Belonging in the Zanzibar Diaspora”, Presenter, Conference: Us and Them: Diasporas for Others in the Indian Ocean, Centre for Interdisciplinary Area Studies, Martin-Luther University Halle, Germany (2019)

Political progress in context

Dr. Ilaria Cozzaglio

Laufzeit des Forschungsprojekts: 07/2018 – 06/2021

The notion of progress is seminal when envisaging the future of our democracies. After all, when we think of what we wish for, and then look at what we actually have, we tend to envisage a way to reach the desired state of affairs. This ultimately means thinking of how we make progress.
The theoretical structure implied in the notion of progress, so far, has been the following: there is a state of affairs, an ideal, and a possible movement (progress) towards the ideal. Accordingly, the ideal is morally characterised as e.g. justice, equality, etc. However, in a political context more and more characterised by disagreement about values, and increasing scepticism about the existence of an objective moral truth, it seems difficult to reach an agreement on which ideal we should aim at. Therefore, either we renounce the idea of progress (Allen, 2016) or we are forced to conceive of it in a non-teleological way. Some proposals in the direction of conceiving of a non-teleological account of progress have been suggested (Forst, 2017). However, scholars suggesting this approach usually resist to conceive of progress as a contextualised notion, being worried that, by doing so, the notion might be emptied of its normative capacity. Although the concern is understandable, there is a shortcoming. Theorists in political realism may object that without a reference to the context, a universally valid notion of progress may be too detached from the vision of the world held by individuals subject to political power. In contrast, to ground a notion of progress on bottom-up standards, namely dependent on the values individuals hold in a specific context, has the advantage of letting people have a say when defining how their society should make progress. This represents a third option, i.e. a teleological notion of progress that includes bottom-up and context-dependent standards rather than universal ones.
To develop this third option, a realist notion of progress will be elaborated. Progress will be defined as a condition in which the political order increasingly reflects individuals’ justified beliefs and standards. While Singer (2011) defined progress as ‘expanding the circle of moral concern’, I will claim that we have political progress when there is an expansion of the circle of political concern, i.e. an expansion of the perspectives that participate, through the public debate, to defining the standards required to the regime.
The notion of progress will present three characteristics. First, it is understood as a political instead of a moral notion, which entails the specification of a new scope of application of the notion.  Political realism claims the autonomy of the political from the moral sphere and prioritises the demand for security and stability over the need for justice (Williams, 2005). Therefore, progress relates to securing more effectively cooperation and compliance (Ypi, 2013). Yet if this is the case, an agreement about which are the aims individuals cooperate for is critical to the notion of progress itself. Those aims are the result of bottom-up standards that individuals elaborate when envisaging which kind of political order they wish to live in.
Second, it will distinguish between a concept and a conception. A concept of progress describes the functioning mechanism of the notion: what progress is and what its content depends on; a conception of progress is a contextualised concept of progress that highlights the specific values individuals agreed on as seminal for their political community.
Third, it will entail the expansion of the circle of political concern, i.e. an expansion of the perspectives that participate to defining the standards required to the regime. Different perspectives, even if ultimately not included in the final standards elaborated by the majority of people living in a given regime, need to be at least listened to in a robust sense, i.e. individuals must have their own belief challenged by different beliefs, and provide the reasons of an eventual refusal to accept them. I will show how this claim can be justified in terms of political realism.
Following from this realist concept of progress, I will examine the related normative constraints. First, individuals’ beliefs need to pass the coherence test, which guarantees that the belief expressed is understandable by others (even if not shared). Second, to check the coherence of their own beliefs, individuals need to have them challenged by different beliefs, that is, they have to participate to the public debate in which different voices have a say. This constraint entails the duty to listen to minorities as part of the public debate space. Third, given that the overall progress partly depends on progress in coherence, there is a duty to check and revise beliefs, to acquire new information, and to promote cultural innovation (borrowing the term from Buchanan&Powell (2016)).

International Law and Legitimacy: Towards a Dynamic Approach

Dr. Alexis Galán

Laufzeit des Forschungsprojekts: 01/2018 – 12/2019

Legitimacy has become a central concern to international law in the last decades. The spike in attention to legitimacy in international law falls into a time of important institutional and normative transformations taking place within the international legal order. From a consensual normative order, centred on interstate relations, international law has evolved into a complex and dense normative framework encompassing areas that until recently seemed alien to international law. Parts of these transformations involve the shift of authority from the state to the international and transnational realm, the emergence of new forms of law-making into being, and multiple actors actively shaping the novel arrangements, producing normativity and its enforcement. The upshot of these developments is the further intrusion of international law in national political and legal processes and the exertion of pressure on those nations not in compliance with its norms.
In light of the vast impact of international law in the workings of domestic societies, for many the question of legitimacy has become impossible to ignore. Traditionally, the consent of the state was the ultimate legitimacy criterion. That criterion seemed appropriate when treaties, either bilateral or multilateral, were considerably simpler and their execution depended entirely on states. However, the significant expansion of international law’s regulatory reach and the dissolution of the national/international divide have created a new reality. As a consequence, the chain of legitimacy from the national to the international level determined at least in part by the consent of states has become weakened. Some then argue that we are confronted with a widening legitimacy gap, making the legitimation of international law a pressing concern.
The main objective of my research project was to propose an alternative understanding of legitimacy in international law. Instead of focusing on developing a substantive account of the concept, I focus on the contestedness surrounding the concept. For that, I propose instead a dynamic understanding of legitimacy. Under this approach, the analysis was not centred on ascertaining whether or not the various institutions and regimes forming the international legal order are legitimate, but rather on analysing how actors attempt to expand or restrict the permissible boundaries of action of those very same institutions and regimes. Accordingly, the language of legitimacy should be viewed as a struggle between various actors with claims and counter-claims that are part of larger ‘strategic games of action and reaction, of question and response, [and] of domination and evasion’ (Davidson 1997, p.5). This alternative understanding of legitimacy allows us to identify the ways in which legitimacy matters and how it shapes the structure of institutions and regimes. To illustrate this understanding of legitimacy I analysed the disputes within international investment regime and self-defence.

In-text references:

Davidson, Arnold I. (1997): “Structures and strategies of discourse: remarks towards a history of Foucault's philosophy of language“, in: Arnold I. Davidson (ed.): Foucault and his interlocutors, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Selected publications related to this project:

Galán, Alexis (2018): 'Julius Stone, aggression, and the future of the international criminal court,' 18(2) International Criminal Law Review 304-330.

Galán, Alexis (2018):´The Shifting Boundaries of Legitimacy in International Law’, 87(4) Nordic Journal of International Law 436-465.

Galán, Alexis (2019): ‘The Search for Legitimacy in International Law: The Case of the International Investment Regime,’ 43(1) Fordham International Law Journal 81-128.

Democratic Hope

Dr. Jakob Huber

Laufzeit des Forschungsprojekts: 07/2018 – 06/2021

In times of a prevailing sense of crisis and disorder in modern politics, there is a growing sentiment that anger and despair or at least resignation and apathy are more appropriate attitudes to navigate the world than hope. Political theorists have long shared this suspicion and shied away from theorising hope systematically: they see it as expressing a doe-eyed approach to the world that condones complacency or at least detracts from what is to be done ‘here and now’. The aim of the project was to resist this tendency by vindicating hope as a vital component of democratic life. In making this argument, I drew inspiration from Immanuel Kant’s account of hope. For Kant, hope is a foundational kind of state that plays an important role in our practical engagement with the world in general. In particular, hope allows us to retain our resolve to act when the odds of making a difference are dim. Hence, it is not something we take refuge with once there is nothing else left to do but it is intricately intertwined with contexts of action.
The aim was to show that hope, conceived along these lines, is particularly indispensable for democratic agents. For they often find themselves torn precisely between the democratic promise that they can make a difference on the one hand, and the seeming futility of their efforts amidst institutions and processes that are often experienced as slow and unresponsive, on the other. Active engagement in democratic practices thus requires agents to find ways of fending off despair, frustration and demoralisation in the face of their own ostensible inefficacy. This motivated my attempt to develop a systematic account of democratic hope that is sensitive to its unavoidability as much as its dangers.
My inquiry proceeded in two stages. At the first, preliminary stage, I investigated the nature, objects and ends of hope more generally. Under which epistemic and practical conditions are we rationally permitted (or even required) to hope, and at which point does our fixation on the hoped-for outcome slide into wishful thinking? What may we hope for, or can “radical hope” even be objectless? Is the significance of hope merely instrumental and, if so, why should we prefer it to darker ‘futural’ orientations such as pessimism or fear (that may be just as efficacious in motivating action)? And how precisely does it relate to other ‘aspirational’ attitudes such as optimism, confidence, or expectation?

At the second, main stage of my project, I turned to the role of hope specifically in democratic life. Here, I zoomed in on three questions. First, in order to see why democratic agents must hope, I sought to identify the structural features of democratic practices and institutions that make citizens particularly vulnerable to despair and resignation in the pursuit of their goals (such that hope is required), but also reflect on those that make them particular prone to hubris and wishful thinking. Second, I asked under which conditions democratic agents can hope. For instance, can we hope under circumstance of severe injustice or if we deeply mistrust our fellow citizens? Third, I investigated the effects of hope on social and political relations. Are hoping agents (as often suggested by political theorists) really bound to be ineffectual in bringing about positive change (when they are paralyzed in anticipation of a desired future while the present falls apart) or even dangerous (when they become too fixated on hoped-for outcomes), or can hope contribute to healthy political relations? What are the conditions for the emergence of “collective hopes” around which a political community as a whole can organise their joint political efforts? And are hopeful agents able to shift the limits of practical possibility by retaining their resolve to pursue distant and ambitious ends?

Most important Publications:

Huber, Jakob, “Looking back, looking forward: Progress, hope and history”, Constellations 28, 2021, pp. 126-139.
Huber, Jakob; Blöser, Claudia; Moellendorf, Darrel, “Hope in Political Philosophy”, Philosophy Compass, 15(5), 2020, pp. 1-9.
Huber, Jakob, “Defying Democratic Despair: A Kantian Account of Hope in Politics”, European Journal of Political Theory, online first, DOI: 10.1177/1474885119847308.


Der Streit um den Rechtsstaat und seine Krise zwischen Liberalismus und Korporatismus (1930-2001)

Dr. Agustín E. Casagrande

Laufzeit des Forschungsprojekts: 01/2018 – 12/2018

Die Staats- und Wirtschaftskrise Argentiniens von 2001 war Anlass für intensive und grundlegende Debatten über die Gestaltung der künftigen politischen und sozialen Ordnung. Wie sollte eine gerechte, Menschenrechte garantierende und Diversität akzeptierende und integrierende Gesellschaft beschaffen sein? In Reaktion auf die Krise und den für sie verantwortlich gemachten Neoliberalismus entwickelte sich in den letzten fünfzehn Jahren eine Politik der staatlichen Hegemonie, die sich vor allem durch zwei Charakterzüge auszeichnet: Erstens wurden staatliche Interventionen verstärkt. Zweitens wurde gesellschaftliche Diversität stark gefördert, insbesondere durch die rechtliche Anerkennung bestimmter ethnischer Gruppen und sozialer Bewegungen. Der sich hiergegen regende Widerstand setzte dem populistischen „Machtstaat“ den bürgerlich-liberalen „Rechtsstaat“ entgegen. Dieser Rechtsstaatsbegriff geriet dann seinerseits unter Ideologieverdacht – er wurde mit marktliberalistischen Rechtfertigungsstrategien synonym gesetzt. Derzeit kann man davon sprechen, dass sich der „Rechtsstaat“, was seine legitimatorische Fundierung betrifft, in der Krise befindet.
Die politisch-moralische Aufladung des Rechtsstaatsbegriffs mit wechselnd positiven oder negativen Konnotationen hat in Argentinien eine weit zurückreichende Tradition und sie hängt in starkem Maße mit den jeweils angenommenen gesellschaftspolitischen Implikationen zusammen. So konnte das Rechtsstaatsverständnis in der argentinischen Diskussion freiheitliche oder eher autoritäre, marktliberale oder sozial-emanzipatorische, gleichheitsbasierte oder auf Differenz setzende Konzeptionen in sich aufnehmen.

In der Geschichte des argentinischen Konstitutionalismus haben sich zwei unterschiedliche und widersprüchliche Verfassungstraditionen herausgebildet: die angelsächsische-liberale Tradition und die nationalistische-staatliche Tradition. Die Grundlage der liberalen Verfassungstradition war die Politische Ökonomie des ausgehenden 18. Jahrhunderts, deren anthropologische Perspektive nur ökonomisch rational handelnde Individuen anerkannte, welche sich auf Augenhöhe begegneten. In diesem Modell der formalen Gleichheit gab es keinen Raum für die Anerkennung von rechtlicher Ungleichheit und Sonderrechtsräumen. Die nationalistisch-staatliche Tradition ihrerseits, die stark korporatistisch geprägt war und deren Hegemonie von 1930 bis 1955 reichte, setzte auf den Staat als Motor der sozialen Entwicklung. Nicht nur die korporative Repräsentation war Teil dieses Konzepts, sondern auch die Anerkennung von unterschiedlichen Akteuren und Gruppen mit besonderen Rechten und Pflichten.

Von diesem Befund ausgehend, wurde im Rahmen des Projekts das Ziel einer historischen Rekonstruktion und Kontextualisierung von Rechtsstaatsverständnissen zwischen 1930 und 2001 verfolgt. Die Leitfragestellungen waren:
Kam es durch die Herausbildung korporatistischer Ordnungsmuster um ca. 1930 zu einer Ablösung des traditionellen liberalen gleichheitsbasierten Rechtsstaatsverständnis durch ein Ungleichheit anerkennendes und sogar förderndes Rechtsstaatsverständnis?
In welcher Weise wurde das traditionelle Rechtsstaatsverständnis später wieder rehabilitiert oder modifiziert und mit anderen Inhalten angereichert?

Methodisch bedeutete dies im Einzelnen, a) den Prozess der Übersetzung des deutschen Rechtsstaatsbegriffs in einem anderen semiotischen Raum zu analysieren; b) die Transformation/Assimilation des Konzepts in der Sprache des argentinischen öffentlichen Rechts zu beschreiben; und c) die verschiedenen Verwendungen des Rechtsstaatsbegriffs in unterschiedlichen historischen und politischen Kontexten zu untersuchen.
Damit sollte eine erhebliche Forschungslücke nicht nur in der argentinischen Rechtsgeschichtswissenschaft, sondern auch in der argentinischen Verfassungsrechtswissenschaft geschlossen werden.


Gobierno de justicia, poder de policía. La construcción oeconómica del orden social en Buenos Aires (1776-1829). Ed. Tirant lo Blanch, Valencia. (Jan. 2019). 257 pp.

Book Chapters:
Agustín E. Casagrande 2018, “Del progreso Estatal al presentismo local. Historia sociológica y sociología jurídica en las aulas de derecho” en Felipe Fucito (Ed.), Sociología Jurídica. Universidad de Buenos Aires, Eudeba, In press.
Agustín E. Casagrande 2018/19 “Estadística en el Río de La Plata a comienzos del siglo XIX. Límites conceptuales para la “fuerza del Estado”, en Agüero Alejandro, Tau Anzóategui, Tradición jurídica y discursividad política en la formación de una cultura estatal. Trayectorias rioplatenses, siglo XIX. Inhide, In press.
Voz del DCH: Confesos. En proceso de revisión y envío de los directores al SSRN Max Planck Institut.

History, pardon and Memory in Latin American Constitutionalism.


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