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Prof. Peter J. Katzenstein Delivers Speech on “Protean Power” in World Politics


Prof. Peter J. Katzenstein from Cornell University delivered a speech titled, The Protean Power: Exploring the Uncertain and Unpredictable Factors in World Politics and had discussions on related issues with over 100 teachers and students on April 23rd, 2018 in Lecture Hall 419 in the main building of the Zhanlanguan Road Campus, China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU). As the first of its kind centering on “International Relations over the Past Century: Evolution of the Discipline of International Relations,” this academic exchange activity was presided over by Prof. Wei Ling, Director of the Research Center for China’s Diplomatic Theory.                 


During his speech, Prof. Katzenstein put forward the concept of “protean power”, which differs from “control power” in world politics. According to Prof. Katzenstein, certainties were the focus of the traditional study paradigm, while a great number of uncertainties were excluded because they were deemed as risks, causing limitations within the study of international relations. Unlike the traditional paradigms, “protean power” attaches greater importance to those unknown, occasional factors, and provides greater flexibility of the subject so as to handle the uncertain or unpredictable situations more effectively. During the discussion, Prof. Katzensteinfurther elaborated on such issues as Sino-US relations, the refugee crisis, and cyber security through the application of the “protean power” and “control power” theoretical frameworks. Other issues concerning “protean power,” including its functional mechanism, feasibility, and efficiency, were also covered during the exchange.                          


2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the discipline of international relations (IR). Against such a backdrop, CFAU has hosted a series of academic activities centering on “the International Relations over the Past Century: Evolution of the Discipline of International Relations.” The series is part of an effort to make contributions to the development of global IR and non-western IR theory, promote innovation at both the theoretical and practical levels with regard to major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era, and thus provide an impetus for the establishment of a “first-class” discipline at the university. 


More about Prof. Peter J. Katzenstein:

Peter J. Katzenstein is the Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, President of the American Political Science Association (2008–09), member of the American Academy of Arts Sciences, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Swiss Political Science Association. He has been honored the Susan Strange Award (2011) of the International Studies Association, the Helen Dwight Reid Award (1974) for the best dissertation in international relations and Woodrow Wilson Prize (1986) for the best book published in the United States on international affairs. Moreover, the Economist ranked him as “The Most Influential Scholar in International Political Economy.” His work, The Culture of National Security, was selected by Choice magazine as one of the top ten books on international relations in 1997. Katzenstein's research mainly focuses on international political economy, security, and culture in world politics and regionalism.