Cultural Diversity and International Order

Lecture Series Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders"

Prof. Chris Reus-Smit, University of Queensland, Australia


There is considerable anxiety in Western capitals about the rise of non-Western powers. While this stems in part from a fear of the instability that often accompanies great power transitions, at root it is a cultural anxiety, a fear that non-Western powers will promote values and practices that erode the modern international order. This resonates with the extant literature in IR, which sees international orders emerging in unitary cultural contexts and diversity as corrosive. Yet such views are deeply problematic. Virtually all international orders emerged in highly diverse cultural contexts, and managing diversity has been a key imperative of institution building. Moreover, the ‘cultural disciplines’ (anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, etc.) now see cultures as highly variegated, contested, and interpenetrated. This all suggests that cultural diversity shapes political orders in complex ways, constitutive and subversive. The challenge is to better understand these complexities, and to cultivate practices that sustain order while fostering global cultural diversity. This lecture explores these issues and maps a research agenda on cultural diversity and international order.


Chris Reus-Smit holds the Chair in International Relations at the University of Queensland, Australia. He is the author of Individual Rights and the Making of the International System (2013), American Power and World Order (2004) and The Moral Purpose of the State (1999); co-author of Special Responsibilities in World Politics (2012); editor of The Politics of International Law (2004); and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of International Relations (2008), Resolving International Crises of Legitimacy (Special issue of International Politics 2007), and Between Sovereignty and Global Governance (1998). Professor Reus-Smit co-edits the Cambridge Studies in International Relations books series, the journal International Theory, and a new twelve volume series of Oxford Handbooks of International Relations. Prior to joining the University of Queensland, Professor Reus-Smit held Chairs at the European University Institute and the Australian National University (where he was Head of the Department of IR from 2001 to 2010).





  • Prof. Chris Reus-Smit, University of Queensland, Australia
  • Prof. Dr. Gunther Hellmann, Principal Investigator des Exzellenzclusters "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen" und Professor für Politikwissenschaft mit dem Schwerpunkt Außenbeziehungen Deutschlands und der Europäischen Union der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main


10 June 2015, 6.15pm

Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main
Campus Westend, Hörsaalzentrum, HZ6

Presented by:
Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders"

Brochure: click here...


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