GIES Honours Paper

The GIES Honours Paper is an initiative by the Ghent Institute for International and European Studies. 

The initiative offers students who wrote an exceptional master’s dissertation under the supervision of a member of the GIES the opportunity to present their main argument or findings in a concise paper.

Academic year 2022-2023

Eds. Dr. Tim Haesebrouck, Servaas Taghon, Anissa Bougrea and Hermine Van Coppenolle

The Construction of Europe: A Content Analysis of Educational Content - by Eline Ruëll

In its quest for more legitimacy, the European Union expects much from the promotion of a 'European identity'. But what might this 'European identity' look like? And what is 'Europe'? A content analysis of Flemish educational content, from 1958 to 2023, uncovers what conceptions of 'Europe' were and are being taught. In addition, this study develops a new theoretical framework, with a geographical, cultural, economic and political dimension, that helps to structure the multitude of meanings that are given to 'Europe'.

Gender Equality Under Attack: Unmasking Opposition to the Istanbul Convention in the European Parliament - by Amber Hanselaer

While all attention was focused on the rising number of Covid-19 infections, another pandemic was growing in its shadow: one of violence against women. Nonetheless, the increased relevance and necessity of the Council of Europe's convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (also known as the Istanbul Convention) proved to be at least as great within the European Union (EU), as the opposition to it. Radical-right populist (RRP) opposition has long posed a challenge to the EU's gender ambitions, now even seeping through to the European Parliament (EP). This paper maps the RRP framings of the Istanbul Convention in the EP, in function of their opposition to it. Its findings contribute to a better understanding of this opposition, which is crucial in undermining it.

Navigating Gender Norms as a Woman in Eastern European Politics - by Sarah Vanassche

This paper uses a qualitative discourse analysis to investigate the different ways in which the political careers of Belarus’ democratic representative Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Serbia’s prime minister Ana Brnabić were affected by their gender. In an increasingly polarized geopolitical climate, gender may seem a rather trivial conversation but it actually touches upon the hearth of many of the current struggles and contemporary discourse. The global call for a return to an idealized past grows progressively influential. Simultaneously, political representation of women continues to increase. This paper studies the intersection of both movements through the lens of two case studies focusing on female politicians in conservative, Eastern European countries. This way, it explores different ways in which gender can be instrumentalized by and against authoritarian regimes and discusses, amongst others, genderwashing, strategies to deal with sexist attitudes and how to weaponize gender stereotypes.

The Populist Radical Right and Russia: Framing a Relationship - by Quinten Mijs

This paper explores how the attitudes and discourses of Partij Voor de Vrijheid and Vlaams Belang towards the Russia and its war in Ukraine evolved. This is ascertained by applying both a quantitative as a qualitative content analysis as well as a framing-analysis on parliamentary debates. The study concludes that since the war, both parties experienced a shift of rhetoric, no longer using pro-Russia rhetoric and applying a ‘fake’ vs ‘real’ refugee framing. There were some differences between the parties, mainly their construction of ‘the region’ and their vision on their state’s involvement in the war. 

A Postcolonial Reading of EU Citizenship of Roma: Case Study of Roma as Abject EU Citizens in Flanders - by Fien Van Hauwermeiren

This paper explores whether Roma in Flanders can exercise their EU citizenship rights fully, based on the hypothesis that problems arise regarding (a) the right to non-discrimination/non-racism and (b) the right to residence/stay. Postcolonial concepts racialisation and securitisation are used as criteria to test whether Roma have an abject EU citizenship. The findings contribute to debates on both gradations of EU citizenship and postcolonial theory. The case study included an exposition of the Belgian National Roma Strategic Framework, the MOE-(Roma) Action Plan (2012) and the FRA survey on Roma and Travellers in Belgium (2019). Additionally, interviews, a field visit to the Lübeck site and attendance to a seminar took place. Even though the National Roma Integration Strategy 2020-2030 includes antigypsyism, (a) the EU-citizenship right to non-discrimination and (b) the EU-citizenship right to residence is violated for Roma and therefore abject.

Development and the '(in)capable black man' - by Tina Kasse B'nicco

This literature review explores the following question, "How does the current global development finance regime sustain racial capitalism?". The current regime for global development finance is identified as the Wall Street Consensus (WSC) and racial capitalism is examined by using "coloniality" as an analytical concept that frames the WSC within the context of International Financial Subordination (IFS). It first analyses how international development policy was used in the past to perpetuate racial capitalism. This serves as a framework to examine how the WSC builds on previous development paradigms to maintain racial capitalism within a new political-economic context. The study finds that the WSC maintains the coloniality of the economy’s prescriptive elements by changing some of its performative aspects to generate a spatial fix that can withstand the threat of a radical climate transition and meet the demands of a portfolio glut.

Academic year 2021-2022

Eds. Dr. Tim Haesebrouck, Servaas Taghon, Anissa Bougrea and Hermine Van Coppenolle

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NATO and the China-question: a new role for the alliance - by Max Piens

This paper shows that NATO, despite its purely political-military nature, can still play a role in addressing the multidimensional threats that China poses to the Euro-Atlantic security. Inspired by the NATO 2030 Agenda, it illustrates that the Alliance can make a greater contribution in the areas of hybrid threats, emerging and disruptive technologies, space, and arms control. Although NATO's new Strategic Concept clarifies the Alliance's policy line, much more concrete elaboration is required by future follow-up documents. The paper tries, by means of a series of recommendations, to close a few important gaps that exist in the above-mentioned domains.

Promoted by Prof. dr. Sven Biscop

Explaining the varying electoral fortunes of populist radical right parties in the 2019 European elections - A fuzzy set analysis - by Matthew Derycke

While a record number of members of populist radical right parties (PRRPs) secured a seat in the European Parliament during the 2019 European elections, there was a striking variation in the success of PRRPs across Europe. The far right indeed made striking gains in some European countries, such as Belgium and Italy, but in countries like Spain and the UK the expected radical right surge turned out to be a mere ripple. This article aims to explain the varying electoral fortunes of PRRPs in the old EU-member states. It develops a theoretical framework that combines demand- and supply-driven explanations of radical right success, which is tested with fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis. The results of the analysis indicate that populist radical right parties were successful in countries where the population had negative attitudes towards migrants and where there was a high degree of Euroscepticism and no successful populist radical left parties.

Promoted by Prof. dr. Hendrik Vos

The China-Enigma in the Russian Arctic - by Berk Vindevogel

The Arctic is not only literally, but figuratively becoming a hot topic within international relations. Russia, the country with the largest Arctic territory, is experiencing the interest of several newcomers on what they experience as their turf. This article wants to offer a risk analysis for the Russian government concerning the accession of China in the Arctic. Additionally, the article offers several solutions as to how Moscow can best protect its interests. The author concludes that not China, but Russia’s own foreign policy is the most severe threat to the Russian Arctic interests.

Promoted by Prof. dr. Sven Biscop

Turning the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa Outside-In, or breaking it down? - by Rein Struyve

During the process of European integration, the European Union (EU) associated itself with an Enlightened cosmopolitanism, as they managed to overcome the barriers between antagonistic nation states. However, according to postcolonial authors, the EU suffers from a colonial amnesia, excluding people outside and within their borders. They suggest a new kind of cosmopolitanism: postcolonial cosmopolitanism. The European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) was selected as a least-likely case to answer the research question: “Can the EUTF pass a postcolonial cosmopolitan test?”. I conducted a discourse analysis of four Action Documents by applying a unique decentring framework. The hypothesis that the EUTF would not succeed the postcolonial cosmopolitan test was confirmed. In conclusion, I offer some reformist and revolutionary proposals to make the EUTF more postcolonial cosmopolitan, such as the recognition of the colonial roots of the EU and a more critical view on a world with strengthened borders.

Promoted by Prof. dr. Jan Orbie

We Are Here Because You Were There: A Postcolonial Critical Discourse Analysis of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum - by Sira Blancquaert

This paper focuses on the New Pact on migration and Asylum proposed by the European Commission in September 2020. Its objectives are twofold. Namely to develop an understanding of the current policy paradigm of the EUs migration and asylum policy domain from a postcolonial perspective. Secondly, to analyse the New Pact against this background. The research shows how the New Pact is more than just ‘old wine in new bottles’. It further deepens the current paradigm, institutionalizing the differentiation between wanted and unwanted migrants and how these should be treated.

Promoted by Prof. dr. Jan Orbie

Obama and Trump in Syria: Similarities and Differences in Their Foreign Policies - by Celien Deweerdt

Since the outbreak of the war in Syria, it has become clear that first under President Obama and later under Trump, the United States (U.S.) struggled to develop a coherent strategy that primarily balances US interests with the resources (financial, military, diplomatic, political) at its disposal. US policymakers have been faced with a series of difficult choices that will affect not only Syria, but also geopolitics and US policy in the Middle East for years to come. This paper examines the similarities and differences between former presidents Obama and Trump and their foreign policies towards the Syrian war, which started in 2011. It contributes to a better understanding of third-party interventions in wars, and of US interventions in a post-Iraq/Afghanistan era. 

Promoted by Prof. dr. Dries Lesage