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Dr Katrin Seidel

Katrin Seidel Foto copy Dr Katrin Seidel
Katrin Seidel Foto copy

Short Bio

Katrin Seidel is currently exploring the relationship between legal plurality and (de-)coloniality, with a focus on ‘Decentering international(ised) Peace Mediation in Africa’. She was a senior researcher at the ‘Law & Anthropology’ Department of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (2012-2019; 2021/22) as well as a Fellow at the Excellence Cluster 'Religion & Politics' of Münster University (2023) and at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research (2015/16).

 Based on her interdisciplinary background (Law, Anthropology and regional studies Africa/Asia), her research is situated at the intersection of legal pluralism, heterogeneous statehood and governance with a transregional Africa focus. Katrin’s work has been concerned with the interrelations of different plural normative and judicial orders and the multiple actors’ claims to primacy in their respective spheres of regulation. The focus is on negotiations of normativities among diverse actors ranging from local to global, particularly in conflict-affected settings in Africa.

 Katrin’s doctoral dissertation and monograph on legal pluralism in Ethiopia examined the  interdependencies between Islamic law and state law (2013), particularly normative conflict dynamics and conflict resolution mechanisms when plural legal realities are recognised by the state’s legal order. Her Habilitation thesis “Internationalised Constitution-making as Tool for Negotiating Statehood and Rule of Law. South Sudan’s and Somaliland’s Constitutional Genesis in the Context of Plural Legal (Dis-)Ordering” (2021) examined the peace, statehood and governance nexus in two emerging states. It reveals interfaces of local-global negotiations on statehood and the emergence of novel modes of governance regarding tensions between state sovereignty and international intervention.

Selected Publications

  • Seidel, Katrin. 2021. Internationalized Constitution-making as Tool for Negotiating Statehood and Rule of Law. South Sudan’s and Somaliland’s Constitutional Genesis in the Context of Plural Legal (Dis-)Ordering [Habilitation]. Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, 389 p. [Internationalised Constitution Making and State Formation: Negotiating the Rule of Law in South Sudan and Somaliland, Routledge (Forthcoming 2024)].
  • Seidel, Katrin. 2022. Justitia ohne Schwert? Zum Spannungsfeld von Mediation und Justiz. Rechtswissenschaft. Zeitschrift für rechtswissenschaftliche Forschung 13(3).
  • Seidel, Katrin and Hatem Elliesie (eds) Normative Spaces and Legal Dynamics in Africa (co-ed. H. Elliesie), Law and Anhtropology Series, Routledge.
  • Seidel, Katrin and Timm Sureau (eds.) 2015. Emerging South Sudan – Negotiating Statehood (co-ed. T. Sureau), Special collection, Journal of Eastern African Studies 9(4).
  • Seidel, Katrin. 2013. Rechtspluralismus in Äthiopien: Interdependenzen zwischen islamischem Recht und staatlichem Recht, Recht in Afrika Serie, Rüdiger Koeppe.

Katrin Seidel Foto copy

Project Description

The project “Decentering Peace Mediation” builds on my ongoing studies on the decolonisation of legal plural orders. During my fellowship I will focus on international(ised) peace mediation, which has become a guiding paradigm for global governance, rooted in Eurocentric politico-philosophical thoughts and shaped by power imbalances that continue to characterise knowledge production. This study aims to decenter narratives of peace and conflict by focussing on historically conditioned multiple and unequal globalisation dynamics, thereby examining how international standardised conflict resolution mechanisms are not only being transferred to African contexts and shaped in culturally specific ways, but how they can also unfold a hegemonic force embodied in the international legal order. The study will specifically analyse how African (sub)regional peace mediation efforts are influenced by international models. By revealing how and by whom the travelling global conflict resolution models are translated in African contexts, the study addresses power and knowledge and the “culture of intervention”. The analytical framework I draw upon is informed by legal pluralism and insights from post-/decolonial as well as spatio-temporal theories. These three perspectives enable to incorporate multiplicity, relationality and power, but also make the interdependencies of plural orders with their normative tensions the starting point of analysis. This provides a foundation for reveal hegemonic knowledge production and its naturalising effects. I consider this as a prerequisite for a re-contextualisation of mediation as well as for entering into a dialogue on epistemic positions on law and the production of (in)justice and (in)equality.

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