Complexity thinking and the relational ethics of global life

Emilian Kavalski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Inhabiting a complex universe reveals not only the interdependence between international actors but also their mutual implication in each other’s interactions and the overwhelming embeddedness of these relations in the world. Complexity is therefore not just a metaphor, but a corrective to an outlook which presents International Relations (IR) as complicated but, in the final analysis, a predictable and rational affair. Complexity Thinking (CT) inaugurates IR into pluriversal politics that exceed the atomistic imaginaries of the possible prescribed by the metanarrative of IR. Owing to its Eurocentrism and anthropocentrism, the IR mainstream is unreceptive to the flexibilities, contingencies, and transformative possibilities engendered by the encounter with other lifeworlds and knowledges. Such considerations call on IR to go back to the road less travelled of encountering the multiplicity of relations animating global life. The chapter embarks on such a journey by detailing CT. The ethical point is to account for the possibilities emerging from living in a profoundly entangled world. Such incipient relational ethics points to the centrality of improvisation and the art of acting politically in thinking and doing world politics. This chapter evokes these registers of worlding mutuality by engaging creatively with the contradictions, challenges, and opportunities of an entangled and unpredictable global life.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook to Rethinking Ethics in International Relations
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781317041771
ISBN (Print)9781472479693
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (all)


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