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Professor Katzenstein visits the School of International Studies in Peking University

MAY . 02 2018
Peking University, April 28, 2018: On April 24, 2018, Peter J. Katzenstein, professor of international studies at Cornell University, visited the School of International Studies in Peking University, where he had a discussion with scholars and students on his latest book, Protean Power: Exploring the Uncertain and Unexpected in World Politics, co-edited with Lucia Seybert.

Professor Katzenstein

Professor Katzenstein introduced “protean power” with the example of Proteus, a prophetic sea god and shapeshifter in Greek mythology. From observing the global economic crisis in 2008, he began to conceptualize a viable government system capable of solving such crises. While traditional international studies emphasize behavior subjects (mainly governments) and events that are predetermined, predictable and fixed, Katzenstein’s latest book focuses on factors that are unknown, unexpected and accidental, and includes a wider range of behavior subjects which tend to be protean.

According to Katzenstein, unpredictability may be the new normal in the contemporary era, and the course of history can be changed by many unexpected events, of which we should be wary in order to avoid strategic mistakes. For example, Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. 2016 presidential election has widely altered views held by scholars in international studies. Professor Katzenstein also suggested that the concept of power is being extended and distributed among subjects of greater variety than any other time in history, as is proved by multinational corporate giantsand the reshaping of political ecology in Europe by immigrants and refugees. Based on that observation, Katzenstein makes a distinction between “control power” (power in its traditional sense) and “protean power” (the new emergence of diffused, variable powers). Pointing out problems of traditional models of international studies, Katzenstein advocates differentiating between risk and uncertainty. He also made a strategy matrix for subjects’ responses to different combinations between risk and uncertainty in international situations with respect to their historical experiences. Response categories included: refusal, affirmation, improvisation, and innovation.The lecture was followed by a lively academic discussion.

Katzenstein is the Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies at Cornell University. His research and teaching lie at the intersection of the fields of international relations and comparative politics. Katzenstein's work addresses issues of political economy, security, and culture in world politics. His current research interests focus on power, regional politics and civilization, the position of America in world politics, and European and German politics. Katzenstein has been teaching in Cornell University since 1973, and was the recipient of multiple awards, such as the 1974 Helen Dwight Reid Award from the American Political Science Association for the best dissertation in international relations; the American Political Science Association's 1986 Woodrow Wilson prize for the best book published in the United States on international affairs; and, together with Nobuo Okawara, the 1993 Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize. Katzenstein was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science in 1987 and served as President of the American Political Science Association from 2008 to 2009。

Written by: Peng Dan
Edited by: Fu Wenyun, Karen Xu
Source: PKU News (in Chinese)