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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2016/17 Dr. Stefan Rother

Dr. Stefan Rother

University of Freiburg
Political Sciences
Junior Fellow
October 2014 - September 2015

Room Raum 01 010
Phone +49 (0)761-203 97319
Fax +49 (0)761-203 97451


Dr. Stefan Rother is a researcher and lecturer at the Department of Political Science, University of Freiburg, Germany. His research focus is on international migration, global governance, social movements, regional integration and non-/post-Western theories of international relations. Until spring 2014, Dr. Rother was editorial manager of the International Quarterly for Asian Studies and Senior Researcher at the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute for socio-cultural research at the University of Freiburg. At ABI, he was part of the research project, “Democratisation through Migration? Political Attitudes of Philippine Return Migrants” (2005-2007).

Rother has successfully completed his doctorate in summer 2012 with the thesis “Diffusion in transnational political spaces: Political activism of Philippine labor migrants in Hong Kong". He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Southeast Asia as well as participant observation at global governance fora and civil society parallel and counter-events at the UN, ILO, ASEAN, World Social Forum and WTO-level. Stefan Rother has recently published articles in Third World Quarterly, Cooperation and Conflict, European Journal of East Asian Studies, International Migration, Migration Studies, the German Journal for Political science (ZPol) and several edited volumes. Rother is co-editor of the series “Studien zur Migrations- und Integrationspolitik” at SpringerVS.

He is a board member of the German Association for Asian Studies (DGA) and speaker of the working group on migration in the German political science association (AK Migrationspolitik in der DVPW). Stefan Rother is also a trained journalist and has more than 20 years of experience as editor and freelance writer for several daily and weekly newspapers.


Selected Publications

  • (2013): "A Tale of Two Tactics: Civil Society and Competing Visions of Global Migration Governance from Below", in Disciplining the Transnational Mobility of People, eds. Martin Geiger and Antoine Pécoud. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 41–62. (refereed)
  • (2012): "Let's Argue about Migration: advancing a right(s) discourse via communicative opportunities", in Third World Quarterly Vol.33 (9), pp. 1735–50. (with Nicola Piper) (refereed)
  • (2012): "Wendt meets East: ASEAN cultures of conflict and cooperation" in Cooperation and Conflict Vol. 47 (1), pp. 49–67. (refereed)
  • (2010): „„Inseln der Überzeugung“ nicht in Sicht: Der Nationalstaat, NGOs und die globale Governance von Migration“, in ZPol - Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Vol. 20 (3-4), pp. 409-439. (refereed)
  • (2009): “Changed in Migration? Philippine Return Migrants and (un)-democratic remittances”, in European Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 8 (2), pp. 245-274. (refereed)


FRIAS Research Project

Regional Democratisation from below? Alignments, Dealignments and Re-alignments in Southeast Asian Transnational Civil Society

Non-Western regional organizations have been largely neglected within the literature on democratization. This holds even more true for the role of transnational civil society actors who have the potential to create an ‘Alternative Regionalism’ from the ground up. In regions like Southeast Asia where states significantly differ in their level of democracy and the willingness to cooperate regionally on contentious issues might be limited, transnational civil society actors may develop distinctive cultures of cooperation and play a democratizing role by giving voice to marginalized groups like transnational migrants. By their very nature, these actors are a representation of pluralism and are thus very far from speaking with “one unified voice”; rather, complex processes of alignments, dealignments and re-alignments along advocacy issues, ideological cleavages and existing network structures can be observed.

The aim of this research is to map out the new transnational political spaces opened up by migrant rights activism and other rights-based social movements in Southeast Asia and analyze their potential for democratization on several scales: the nation-state, regionalism and global institutions. The civil society actors in the region are very heterogeneous, albeit there are two major clusters or “networks of networks” within which many grassroots movements and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the field of migration have built coalitions.

During my stay at FRIAS I will analyze three dimensions of these actor-networks: structural by looking at cross-sectoral alliance-building, internal by identifying cultures of cooperation on the ground and from the ground up and external by analyzing the engagement on the local, transnational and regional level with states and institutions.