SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Pluralism, the Organisation of Difference, and the End of the Liberal World Order

Prof. Christian Reus-Smit

Date: 16 October 2019Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 16 October 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Seminar

The liberal world order is a varied and contradictory phenomenon, one aspect of which is a distinct regime for the organization of cultural difference, usefully termed ‘global pluralism’. Consolidated only in the 1970s, and combining Westphalian sovereignty with international norms upholding the cultural rights of individuals, this regime is now under challenge from the resurgent xenophobic nationalisms, politicized religion, insurgent white supremacy, and unashamed civilizational chauvinism. A crucial, yet neglected, question for the future of the liberal world order is whether global pluralism can survive in the face of such challenges. This seminar sets out a framework for answering this question. Systematically comparing global pluralism with past Western and non-Western ‘diversity regimes’, it draws out its unique institutional characteristics and adaptive capacities. Challenging existing accounts of the nature and plasticity of ‘pluralist international society’, as well as culturalist arguments about the dependence of pluralism on Western cultural hegemony, it focuses on the complex social contacting required to sustain global pluralism and on the limits of liberal forms of cultural recognition.

Organiser: Phil Clark & Kerem Nisancioglu

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