Inside/Outside and Around: Complexity and the Relational Ethics of Global Life

Emilian Kavalski

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


It has become expected of policymakers, pundits, and scholars to refer to a whole raft of dilemmas–from the economic downturn to climate change–as complex. The complexity of these challenges intimates a pattern of interactions marked by sharp discontinuities and exponential transformations triggered by incremental changes. How can one act ethically and politically in such a turbulent environment? Drawing on Complexity Thinking (CT), this article emphasizes the radical relationality of global life, which contests the Eurocentrism and anthropocentrism of International Relations (IR). The proposition is that the fundamental rift in IR’s inquiry is not merely about the divide between the domestic (inside) and the international (outside) as mainstream orthodoxies aver, but about the very context (around) in which such schisms are located and performed. The relational ethics of such a “complexified” outlook critique the atomistic individualism dominating IR and reimagine the international as a dynamic space for dialogical learning, which promises a world that is less hegemonic, more democratic, and equitable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-486
Number of pages20
JournalGlobal Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Complexity thinking
  • anthropocentrism
  • eurocentrism
  • relational ethics
  • relationality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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