Talk: “Protean and Control Power in World Politics”
Peter J. Katzenstein
Professor of International Studies
Cornell University, USA.
Tuesday, March 29, 3:30 p.m.
A-130 (Seminar Room), FEASS Building
This chapter introduces the concept of protean power to help us better understand unintended and unanticipated events, surprising trends, and intractable challenges that mark contemporary world politics. We define protean power as the effect of actors’ evolving agility as they adapt in situations of uncertainty. This departs from conventional definitions of power that focus on actors’ evolving ability to exercise control in situations of calculable risk and thus to cause outcomes they deem desirable. Power can elicit responses ranging from acquiescence and resistance, associated with the traditional notions of control power, to innovation which is predominantly the effect of protean power. Both kinds of power, protean and control, interact, rather than replace one another in contexts characterized by both risk and uncertainty. We build on the work by Friedrich Hayek, Michel Foucault, and Elinor Ostrom to point out the limits of control in responding to unknown unknowns. In doing so, we highlight the potential for resistance to prevailing orders through innovation and its at times transformative effects. Finally, we review contemporary international relations scholarship that tends to neglect uncertainty or conflate it with risk and explore the interaction of risk and uncertainty in complex settings.
Peter J. Katzenstein is the Walter S. Carpenter, Jr., and 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 the politics of civilizations; on questions of public diplomacy, law, religion, and popular culture; regionalism in world politics; and German politics.
Recent books include: Anglo-America and Its Discontents: Civilizational Identities beyond West and East (Routledge, 2012). Sinicization and the Rise of China: Civilizational Processes beyond East and West (Routledge, 2012). Civilizations in World Politics: Plural and Pluralist Perspectives (Routledge, 2010). Beyond Paradigms: Analytic Eclecticism in World Politics (Palgrave, 2010), with Rudra Sil. European Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2009), co-edited with Jeffrey T. Checkel. Rethinking Japanese Security (Routledge, 2008). Anti-Americanisms in World Politics, co-edited with Robert O. Keohane (Cornell University Press, 2007).
Katzenstein served as President of the American Political Science Association (2008-09). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science in 1987 and the American Philosophical Society in 2009. He was the recipient of the 1974 Helen Dwight Reid Award of the American Political Science Association for the best dissertation in international relations; of 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, of the 1993 Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize. One of his edited volumes, The Culture of National Security, was selected by Choice magazine as one of the top ten books in international relations in 1997. Katzenstein has been a Fellow at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin. In addition he has held numerous fellowships, and he continues to serve on the editorial boards and academic advisory committees of various journals and organizations, both in the United States and abroad.
Since 1982 Katzenstein has served as the editor of over 100 books that Cornell University Press has published under the imprint of the Cornell Studies in Political Economy.
Since joining the Cornell Government Department in 1973 Katzenstein has chaired or been a member of more than one hundred dissertation committees. He received Cornell’s College of Arts and Science Stephen and Margery Russell Distinguished Teaching Award in 1993, and, in recognition of sustained and distinguished
undergraduate teaching, was made one of Cornell University’s Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellows in 2004.