Miriam Müller-Rensch on what sparked her curiosity to study the European Union

Miriam Müller-Rensch is Affiliate Scholar at Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria, BC, Canada; Coast and Straits Salish Territory. She is also Professor for Sociology and International Inequality at the  University of Applied Sciences of Erfurt, Germany.  Read about her journey to become a scholar with an interest in European Studies.


What attracted you to the field of European Studies/ fascinated you about the EU?

The catastrophe of the two world wars which resulted in the division of Europe for over 40 years and the almost miraculous unification not only of Germany, but the whole continent, have sparked my interest early on. I was intrigued by and concerned about the events which preceded the fundamental social changes, but also socio-political preconditions for authoritarian attitudes, the othering of social groups, social exclusion and radicalization and how to work against these developments. Consequently, I dedicated my studies to the shared European history of the 20th century and the current affairs of the European states and Germany in one of the most relevant places for these questions in past and present: in Berlin. Now, almost two decades later, I’ve lost nothing of my curiosity and drive to improve our understanding of social change towards the extremes, but also the ever-present possibility of hope after violence and destruction for which there is no better symbol out there than the European Union itself.


What is the most important issue to be addressed in your research?

As an interdisciplinary scholar with a focus on political ideologies, political systems & violence and conflict, the most important issue to be addressed in my research with regard to European Studies is the current change of European societies towards the extremes, be it right-wing, left-wing or Islamist, the inter-dependence of these radicalizing milieus all over Europe and the interconnectedness of European societies’ polarization with feelings of insecurity when facing effects of globalization like the permeation of borders, migration and glocalization (Baumann, 1998). Over the next three years, I aim to connect the transnational perspective with regional research in Eastern Germany at the “Research Center on Radicalization and Violent Conflict” at the University of Applied Sciences, Erfurt, Germany which will be founded in the fall this year.


Miriam M. Müller-Rensch (Joint Ph.D.) miriam.mueller-rensch@fh-erfurt.de; www.daspoliticum.de; @daspoliticumde* *          Professor for Sociology and International Inequality; University of Applied Sciences of             Erfurt, Germany *          Research Partner of Max-Planck-Institute for Social Anthropology Halle; Research             Group: How Terrorists Learn *          Affiliate Scholar at Center for Global Studies, University of Victoria, BC, Canada; Coast             and Straits Salish Territory


Miriam Mueller-Rensch is Professor for Sociology and International Inequality at the University of Applied Sciences of Erfurt, Germany. There, she will be Head of the Research Center on Radicalization and Violent Conflict starting in fall 2020. She holds a Joint Ph.D. in Political Science, International Relations and the Middle East from the Free University of Berlin and the University of Victoria, Canada. Her expertise lies with history, politics and the societies of the Middle East and their relations with "the West" (NATO & EU) with a special focus on security and development. She is interested in terrorist violence, crime, regime change, and migration as effects of war and conflict. Her current research project with the Max-Planck-Institute of Social Anthropology Halle/Germany on "Daesh's (ISIS) alternative mode of governance in Iraq and Syria" combines perspectives of rebel governance and critical terrorism studies with an emphasis on the role of ideologies, religion and identities. Her research includes field work in the MENA region and Europe in French and Arabic (Jordan, Yemen, Germany, France; refugee camps, jails, exile and religious communities).



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