Bettina Haasen

Curriculum VitaeBettina Haasen

PhD fellow at the SIIC since July 2014. Born 1969 in Göttingen. Studies of African Languages and Political Sciences at the Universities of Cologne, Hamburg and Paris (1991-1997). Documentary filmmaker and producer (1997-2010). Qualification as peace adviser at the Academy for Conflict Transformation in Bonn / Königswinter (2010). Coordinator of a journalistic educational program in a German peace building project in Burundi (2011-2014).

Research Focus and Interests

Media systems in Africa, media and conflict in transformation countries, journalistic quality, ethics and regulation, intercultural communication, journalism culture, comparative media.

PhD Project

“Between advocacy and manipulation – journalism culture in political transformation contexts: Professional settings, roles and actions. The Case of Burundi’s 2015 Electoral Campaign”

Journalists act in a tension field; constantly they have to negotiate their role in society anew and balance out interdependencies with those in power – this accounts for established democracies and even more so for countries in transition under authoritarian rule. The continual process of alignment and defiance varies significantly depending on the national and temporal contexts and becomes most obvious in times of crisis and conflict. In a transition process towards more democratic rules media are regarded as playing a crucial role – both by facilitating, but frequently also by impeding democratic practices to take root. Both was the case in the Burundian civil war from 1993 until 2006. This paper starts from the viewpoint that four main arenas of democratization conflicts can be identified: struggles over citizenship and collective identities; over control and distribution of power; over electoral conflicts and over the pursuit of transitional justice (Voltmer & Kraetzschmar 2015). All these conflict types can be observed in the case of Burundi but especially the electoral conflict is the “peak moment” in regard to the field of journalism. Today, after 15 years of peace-building the controversial re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza has taken the nation once more on the edge of civil war. Field research took place during the failed military coup in May 2015 in the course of which five media houses got destroyed and journalists fled the country. The till then outstanding example of press freedom in the Great Lakes Region came to an abrupt halt. The main research questions were:

  • Which impact has the Habitus on journalistic practices and attitudes in political conflict setting?
  • How do journalists reconcile professional “ambitions” and personal “wounds”?
  • How do journalists perceive their contribution to change (dialogue, democratization)?

This tense political environment forms the exclusive setting in which the concept of habitus has been applied. What Pierre Bourdieu describes as incorporated dispositions that are reflected in the actor’s perception, thought and action hasn’t been related to journalists in fragile democratization processes, yet. According to first results, their professional role becomes more political while democratic structures are dissolving. At the same time the current conflict weakens the solidary and independent media landscape which is confronted with other fields of power. The analysis of habitus in the up-to-date Burundian context offers a new perspective on normative expectations towards (peace) journalism in a particular conflict situation.


Prof. Dr. Barbara Thomaß, Ruhr University Bochum


  • Haasen, Bettina (2015): Burundi: Der trügerische Frieden. In: Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, Vol. 09/2015, pp. 21-24. (more)


  • Haasen, B.: „Conflict resolution and peace-building – concepts, methods and the field“. Talk on Transitional Justice in the context of the Burundian Crisis. FU Berlin, January 1, 2016
  • Haasen, B.: “An endagered democracy: Applying Bourdieu’s concept of Habitus on the conflict case of Burundi“, Workshop „Media, elections and conflicts in Africa“, University of Oxford, November 16, 2015
  • Haasen, B.: „De-westernizing media studies“. Presentation of Ph.D project and aspects of the approaches of dewesternization communication research (Communication Studies / Prof. Dr. Thomaß), Ruhr University Bochum, October 30, 2015
  • Haasen, B.: “Forced into silence. The media in Burundi during the electoral crisis“, Sociological Colloquium, Technical University Cottbus, April 15, 2015

Grants & Scholarships

  • since 2015 International Realisation Budget (IRB), Ruhr University Bochum
  • 2015 DAAD Doktoranden-Kurzzeitstipendium


Email: bettina.haasen(at)