World Politics at the Edge of Chaos

Reflections on Complexity and Global Life

Edited by Emilian Kavalski

Subjects: Political Science, International Relations, Environmental Politics
Series: SUNY series, James N. Rosenau series in Global Politics, SUNY Press Open Access
Paperback : 9781438456089, 302 pages, January 2016
Hardcover : 9781438456072, 302 pages, June 2015

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Inside/Outside and Around: Observing the Complexity of Global Life
Emilian Kavalski
Part I. Complexity Thinking and Anthropocentric International Relations
1. The Gardner and the Craftsman: Four Types of Complexity in Global Life
David C. Earnest
2. Theorizing International Relations: Emergence, Organized Complexity, and Integrative Pluralism
Colin Wight
3. Musings on Complexity, Policy, and Ideology
Christopher A. Ford
4. Harnessing the Knowledge of the Masses: Citizen Sensor Networks, Violence, and Public Safety in Mugunga
Erika Frydenlund and David C. Earnest
5. Ascertaining the Normative Implications of Complexity Thinking for Politics: Beyond Agent-Based Modeling
Mark Olssen
Part II. Complexity Thinking and Nonanthropocentric International Relations
6. Complexifying International Relations for a Posthumanist World
Erika Cudworth and Stephen Hobden
7. Prologomena to Postanthropocentric International Relations: Biosphere and Technosphere in the Age of Global Complexity
Antoine Bousquet
8. The Good, the Bad, and the Sometimes Ugly: Complexity as Both Threat and Opportunity in National Security
Myriam Dunn Cavelty and Jennifer Giroux

9. Complexity and Stability in Human-Environment Interaction: The Transformation from Climate Risk Cascades to Viable Adaptive Networks
Jürgen Scheffran
Conclusion: Complexifying IR: Disturbing the “Deep Newtonian Slumber” of the Mainstream
Emilian Kavalski

Comprehensive overview of the inroads made by Complexity Thinking approaches and ideas in the study and practice of world politics.


Why are policymakers, scholars, and the general public so surprised when the world turns out to be unpredictable? World Politics at the Edge of Chaos suggests that the study of international politics needs new forms of knowledge to respond to emerging challenges such as the interconnectedness between local and transnational realities; between markets, migration, and social movements; and between pandemics, a looming energy crisis, and climate change. Asserting that Complexity Thinking (CT) provides a much-needed lens for interpreting these challenges, the contributors offer a parallel assessment of the impact of CT to anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric (post-human) International Relations. Using this perspective, the result should be less surprise when confronting the dynamism of a fragile and unpredictable global life.

This book is freely available in an open access edition thanks to Knowledge Unlatched—an initiative that provides libraries and institutions with a centralized platform to support OA collections and from leading publishing houses and OA initiatives. Learn more at the Knowledge Unlatched website at:, and access the book online at the SUNY Open Access Repository at

Emilian Kavalski is Associate Professor of Global Studies at the Institute for Social Justice at Australian Catholic University, North Sydney. He is the author and editor of several books, including Central Asia and the Rise of Normative Powers: Contextualizing the Security Governance of the European Union, China, and India.


". ..provides the scientific community with a compilation of exemplary scholarship which addresses the responsibility institutions face in terms of managing complexity. " — International Journal on World Peace