Germany's ‘War on Terror' : Exploring Frames and Imaginations in Practical and Popular Geopolitics

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisExternal


The thesis explores the geopolitical imaginations of Afghanistan within major political parties in Germany and the influential news magazine Der Spiegel. It seeks to identify assumptions regarding the territory, identity, sovereignty and security of Afghanistan and Germany in parliamentary speeches of five political parties and on magazine covers.

Germany was the third-largest contributor to the multilateral military mission in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2014. Thousands of German troops and police officers were stationed in this state as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The German participation in ISAF was unprecedented and resulted in nearly 60 deaths among German soldiers. Popular and practical geopolitics in Germany were divided about the state’s role in the ‘War on Terror’, reflecting a historically complicated relationship to war and violence.

To study aforementioned assumptions, the thesis develops a framework that analyses the forms, variability and changing nature of geopolitical imaginations. The framework takes a mixed methods approach and draws on earlier work in critical geopolitics, political geography, International Relations and media studies. It enables the identification, interpretation and analysis of geopolitical frames in textual and textual-visual representations.

The framework raises awareness of the role of knowledge and assumptions in scholarly interpretations of geopolitical representations. This adds to methodological rigour and analytical transparency. Such transparency further opens new opportunities for a better structured dialogue about meaning-making processes that involve space and power.

The study of parliamentary speeches and Der Spiegel covers contributes to academic debates on German’s foreign policy. Moreover, the analysis of how German political parties and the printed press made sense of the ‘War on Terror’ generates a deeper understanding of the critical geopolitics of Afghanistan. By way of conclusion, the thesis offers methodological and empirical contributions to the manner in which scholars engage with representations of states and Germany in particular.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Dodds, Klaus, Supervisor, External person
  • Pinkerton, Alasdair, Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Critical Geopolitics
  • Framing
  • Frames
  • Germany
  • 'War on Terror'


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