Pluralism, Polarity, and Problems of International Authority

Jun 21, 2024, 8:45 am5:15 pm
Laura Wooten Hall, Room 301 (Kerstetter Room)
Open to Princeton University ID Holders


Event Description

In Charles Maiers’ influential view, a peculiar historical moment underwrote the concept of the nation state. The territorial configuration of the modern international order has rested on a circumstantial overlap of “decision space” with “identity space.” Yet that understanding of borders, so integral to the liberal internationalism of the twentieth century, seems vestigial in light of recent transformations of the global political and economic order. Decision space and identity space appear to drift apart. Migration and pandemics endanger human welfare across borders; individual proprietors of satellites can disrupt internet access and military capability at a moment’s notice; international financial institutions increasingly govern public infrastructure in “emerging markets.” Each of these phenomena points to the incapacity of our current state system to address the shifting boundaries of corporate and supranational authority in the 21st century. While previous critiques of a state-centric conception of world politics have highlighted the role of international institutions and multinational corporations in traditional interstate relations, they have paid less attention to how the disruption of spatial order and territorial consciousness demands alternative models of sovereignty, administration, and democracy. This workshop addresses the current incongruence between identity space and decision space, speculating on how a proper balance may be recovered in the twenty-first century. We also examine how this moment is situated in global history: are we experiencing a “return” to familiar dynamics of bipolarity, corporate empire, and feudal structures, or witnessing a new era of technological and social reality?

Please register here for paper access. If you have any questions, please contact conference organizers Heather Penatzer or Max Ridge.


Anuja Bose, University of Minnesota; Jan Eijking, Oxford University; Eric Helleiner, University of Waterloo; Daniel Lyng, Princeton University; Benjamin Mueser, Columbia University; Heather Penatzer, Princeton University; Lucia Rafanelli, George Washington University; Max Ridge, Princeton University; Mira Siegelberg, Cambridge University; Jens Steffek, Technische Universität Darmstadt; Swati Srivastava, Purdue University; Philip Stern, Duke University.

With discussant comments from Heather Penatzer, Max Ridge, Cole Smith, and Kritika Vohra. The conference is  supported by the Reimagining World Order project and the University Center for Human Values.  


8:45 a.m. Breakfast & Greetings
9:30-11 a.m.      Panel 1: Globalization and Technological Governance
Eric Helleiner, Daniel Lyng, Swati Srivastava; Discussant: Kritika Vohra
11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.Panel 2: Historicizing State Boundaries
Heather Penatzer, Benjamin Mueser, Mira Siegelberg; Discussant: Max Ridge
Lunch Break 
2-3:30 p.m.Panel 3: Coalitions Across Borders
Anuja Bose, Max Ridge, Jens Steffek; Discussant: Cole Smith
3:45-5:15 p.m.Panel 4: Frontiers of Global Governance
Jan Eijking, Lucia Rafanelli, Philip Stern; Discussant: Heather Penatzer