Individual Research Projects

Learning Intelligence: The Exchange of Secret Service Knowledge

Research project of Sophia Hoffmann

This project investigates whether the international relations between Arab and German secret services resulted in an exchange of knowledge, and whether this exchange resulted in similarities and/or differences in the shape, conduct and politics of German and Arab secret services. Knowledge is here conceptualised as modus operandi; as the ideas and practices about how to develop, justify and run a secret service. Secret services are an extremely widespread institution of modern states, yet social sciences’ empirical and theoretical understanding of their functioning remains very shallow, and strongly focused on the Anglo-Saxon world. Coming from a political science perspective, with interdisciplinary cross-over into history, sociology and Middle East studies, this project proposes archival, literature and interview research to develop innovative answers about the nature, impact and role of secret services across different types of states and regimes.

 

Intelligence Fields: The Relations of the East German Stasi and Syrian Mukhabarat, 1960-1990

PhD Project of Noura Chalati

Drawing on archival material, political memoirs, and interviews, this PhD project sets out to study the East German and Syrian intelligence work between 1960 and 1990 to uncover similarities and differences, and to investigate their international intelligence relations.

This project employs a Bourdieu-inspired field and practice theoretical approach and develops the concept of intelligence fields which are in constant interaction with each other. While intelligence agencies, such as the numerous Syrian (Mukhabarat) and the East German (MfS – Ministry for State Security) intelligence agencies, are the key players in intelligence fields, there are several other intelligence actors that this framework seeks to incorporate.

Special emphasis will be put on the role that bureaucracy, surveillance and violence play for both intelligence agencies - services in countries with histories as distinct as those of East Germany and Syria. Besides being enormous bureaucratic institutions with a lot of paperwork that influences everyday life, the Mukhabarat and the MfS used omnipresent surveillance and violence which strongly affected the Syrian and East German societies. Furthermore, this project will examine if and how ideology shapes the work and cooperation of these institutions which, to varying degrees, embraced Socialist ideologies under the Soviet sphere of influence.

Intelligence Agencies as Preservers of Raison d'État. Comparison and Analysis of Collaboration between the Bundesnachrichtendienst and Jihaz Al-Mukhabarat Al-Amma from 1969-1990.

PhD Project of Ali Dogan

In my dissertation I compare the German foreign intelligence service - Bundesnachrichtendienst - and the Iraqi intelligence service - Jihaz Al-Mukhabarat Al-Amma - and analyse their cooperation. I examine and compare the organization and operation of these intelligence services with Machiavelli's understanding of raison d'État and realpolitik. I apply Machiavelli’s understanding, with reference to Francis Bacon's and Michel Foucault's ideas, on the existence and work of intelligence services.

By comparing both agencies, I want to highlight the similarities of both intelligence services in two different state systems. While both secret services differ in their secrecy and execution of intelligence methods, both intelligence agencies pursue the same interest: the preservation of raison d'État through authorizations for the services that resemble a "permanent coup d'état" (Foucault).

By analysing the cooperation, I argue that the preservation of raison d'État for modern states has expanded to a transnational level. Foreign intelligence services play a significant role as the maintainer of raison d'État at the transnational level. The realpolitik cooperation between the Bundesnachrichtendienst and Jihaz Al-Mukhabarat Al-Amma in the period from 1969 to 1990 reflects the preservation of raison d'État abroad.