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Research Seminar | The Closure of the International System: How International Institutions Create Political Equalities and Hierarchies

Monday March 14, 2022, from 13:30 to 15:00
Research seminar

Lora Anne Viola (Free University of Berlin). ChairRobert Kissack (IBEI)

Available in video:

In response to challenges facing the current international institutional order, many scholars argue that international institutions have historically acted as motors of inclusion and democratization in global governance. This talk, based on The Closure of the International System, challenges this view, arguing that the history of the international system is a series of institutional closures, and that a core purpose of institutions such as diplomacy, international law, and international organizations has been to legitimate a stratified system of political equals and unequals. The coexistence of equality and hierarchy is a constitutive feature of the international system and its institutions. This tension is relevant today as multilateral institutions are challenged by disaffected citizens, non-Western powers, and established great powers discontent with the distribution of political rights and authority.

Lora Anne Viola is Professor of Political Science at the Freie Universität Berlin and Chair of the Politics Department at the FU's John F. Kennedy Institute. She received her PhD and MA degrees from the University of Chicago and her BA from Columbia University. Her research interests include international relations theory, the development of international organizations, global governance, diplomacy, and US foreign policy. In addition to her recent monograph, The Closure of the International System(Cambridge University Press, 2020), she has recently publishedTrust and Transparency in an Age of Surveillance (Routledge Studies in Surveillance Series, 2021) and Historical Institutionalism and International Relations: Explaining Institutional Development in World Politics (Oxford University Press, 2016). Her research has appeared in academic journals such as International Studies Quarterly and Review of International Studies. Her work has been the recipient of numerous awards, including ECPR's Hedley Bull Prize, ISA's Chadwick Alger Best Book Award, ISA’s Diplomatic Studies Best Book Award, APSA’s Jervis Schroeder Honorable Mention Award, and APSA’s Alexander George Award.