National Identity and Region-building in Moldova: A Discursive Approach to Europeanization
The dissertation seeks to better understand foreign policy making of the Republic of Moldova in the context of EU integration through the lens of poststructuralist discourse analysis. In doing so it contributes to ongoing debates in literature on the shortcomings of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and the rise of geopolitics in the eastern neighbourhood. Discourses analysis as an analytical framework emphasises the role of identity and recalls that these identities are not pre-given but relational. The dissertation raises the question how EU integration has shaped Moldova’s self-understanding as a ‘European’ state and how this self-understanding, in turn, shapes EU integration? The framework calls for two basic analytical steps: First, the identification of potentially competing Self/Other constructions in the EU and Moldova and how they juxtapose Moldova’s European identity. And second, how the new discursive dispositions posed by EU integration ‘normalize’ Moldova’s European identity and (simultaneously) legitimize EU integration practices. The methodology rests on the concepts of ‘intertextuality’, ‘discursive nodal points’, and ‘basic discourses’. In line with these concepts a dynamic corpus of texts and statements is analysed in genres such as official discourses (e.g. speeches acts and political writings by officials and politicians, strategy papers), media reporting, and expert discourses on foreign policy and EU integration.
The case study is the Republic of Moldova
From a theoretical point of view the dissertation contributes to the debate on discursive approaches to EU integration. It adds to the existing literature on the eastern neighbourhood by applying the Region Building Approach and the concept of performativity. It recalls, that ‘European aspirations’ are not pre-given, but imagined, negotiated and practiced and therefore also politically contested in the neighbourhood countries. The application of poststructuralist framework also contributes to an ongoing critique of the normative power Europe-approach from a critical studies perspective.
From an empirical point of view the Republic of Moldova is an understudied case. Some studies use discursive approaches to foreign policy making of East European countries in the context of EU integration, but very little work has been done on foreign policy discourses in Moldova. Furthermore, Moldova’s problematic national identity formation has drawn considerable scholarly attention. However, the question how this ‘protracted nation-building’ has played out in the context of foreign policy making the competitive regional influences has so far been rarely addressed. A rich empirical account of Moldova’s foreign and EU integration policy making is therefore not only a contribution to EU integration studies but also to area studies interested in East European politics.
Finally, the project is also relevant from a societal point of view. By shedding a critical light on EU integration practices the study contributes to better understanding of current debates in ENP studies: For example, a debate on various ‘unintended consequences’ of EU integration in the region and increasing geopolitical tensions and domestic political instability in the neighbourhood countries.
|11/2016 – 09/2017||Université de Genève, Switzerland|
|10/2017 – 08/2018||Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium|
|09/2018 – 09/2019||Université de Genève, Switzerland|
|10/2019 – 03/2020||Free International University of Moldova, Chisinau, Moldova|
|04/2020 – 01/2021||Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark|
Academic Positions and grants
|10/2020 – 01/2021||Doc.mobility Fellowship form the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)|
|11/2016 – 09/2019||Marie Curie Doctoral Fellow, GEM-STONES PhD school|
|10/2017 – 10/2018||Visiting Researcher at the Union of International Associations (www.uia.org)|
|2015 – present||Editoral assistant of the Review of Central and East European Law (RCEEL)|
|2014 – 2015||PENTA Join EU-SEE grant, 10 month mobility at the University of Belgrade, Serbia|
|2016 – present||PhD in International Relations and EU-Studies, Université de Genève and Université Libre de Bruxelles|
|2013 – 2016||Joint Master’s Degree in in South-Eastern European Studies (M.A.), University of Graz and University of Belgrade|
|2008 – 2012||B.A. in Political Science and Communications Science, LMU Munich|
- East-European politics
- European Neighbourhood Policy
- Europeanization and norm transfer
- Political Sociology
- Discourse Analysis
- Data-mining and network analysis
- Wolfschwenger, Johann and Kirsten Saxinger. 2021. Federalism, national identity and over-coming frozen conflicts: Moldova's experience. in: Keil, Sören and Elisabeth Alber (eds.) Federalism as a Tool of Conflict Resolution. London: Routledge. ISBN: 9780367692964 (Re-print of a special issue in Ethnopolitics)
- Wolfschwenger, Johann and Kevin L. Young. 2021. Multi-causality and equifinality. in: Morin, Jean-Frédéric, Christian Olsson and Ece Özlem Atikcan (eds). Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780198850298.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. 2020. The unintended consequences of neighbourhood policies by the European Union and Russia – Region-building in Moldova in an interregional context. in: Lopez-Lucia, Elisa and Frank Mattheis (eds.) The Unintended Consequences of Interregionalism. Effects on Regional Actors, Societies and Structures. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003093749-11.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann and Kirsten Saxinger. 2020. Federalism, national identity and over-coming frozen conflicts: Moldova's experience. Ethnopolitics 19(4). 356-368. https://doi.org/10.1080/17449057.2020.1795472.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. 2017. The EU Governance Approach to the Transnistrian Conflict: A Powerful Tool for Conflict Management? in: Bellak, Blanka, Jaba Devdariani, Benedikt Harzl and Lara Spieker (eds). Governance in Conflict. Selected Cases in Europe and Beyond. Vienna: Lit Verlag. ISBN: 9783643909053.
POLICy and working papers
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. 2020. The EU’s Eastern Partnership between a rock and a hard place. AIES Fokus 9/2020. Austrian Institute for Europen and Security Policy. online: https://www.aies.at/publikationen/2020/fokus-20-09.php.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. 2019. 10 Years Eastern Partnership – The EU and its Strategic Dilemma. OeGfE Policy Brief 14’2019. Austrian Society for European Politics. online: https://oegfe.at/2019/06/10-years-eap-strategic-dilemma/.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. 2018. Georgia in European Discourses: An Austrian Perspective. Policy Memo No. 27. Georgian Institute of Politics. May 2018. online: http://gip.ge/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Policy-Memo-27.pdf.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. 2014. The Russian Dimension in the Transnistrian Conflict – Possibilities for Conflict Resolution. Public Policy Research Paper No 4. REEES Graz. online: http://unipub.uni-graz.at/reees/periodical/titleinfo/301654.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. 2018. Book Review: Theorizing the European Neighbourhood Policy. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 18(4). 599-600. https://doi.org/10.1080/14683857.2018.1489616.
- Matrakova, Marta and Johann Wolfschwenger. 2018. Book Review: Assessing European Neighbourhood Policy. East European Politics 34(2). 241-242. https://doi.org/10.1080/21599165.2018.1456923.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. Eine Revolution an der Wahlurne. Wiener Zeitung. Gastkommentar. 9 December 2020. online: https://www.wienerzeitung.at/meinung/gastkommentare/2084842-Eine-Revolution-an-der-Wahlurne.html.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. Revolution an der Wahlurne in der Republik Moldau?. CPD Policy Blog. 20 November 2020. online: https://policyblog.uni-graz.at/2020/11/revolution-an-der-wahlurne-in-der-republik-moldau/.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. Geopolitische Spannungen anstelle von demokratischen Reformen. Wiener Zeitung. Gastkommentar. 27 June 2019. online: https://www.wienerzeitung.at/meinung/gastkommentare/2015778-Geopolitische-Spannungen-anstelle-von-demokratischen-Reformen.html.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. 10 years Eastern Partnership – a new vision needed?. CPD Policy Blog. 13 May 2019. online: https://policyblog.uni-graz.at/2019/05/10-years-eastern-partnership-a-new-vision-needed/.
- Wolfschwenger, Johann. „Gut gemeint aber schlecht gemacht!“ – Die Östliche Partnerschaft der EU und ihre unbeabsichtigten Konsequenzen. CPD Policy Blog. 7 November 2017. online: https://policyblog.uni-graz.at/2017/12/ostliche-partnerschaft-unbeabsichtigten-konsequenzen.