Polymorphic Justice and the Crisis of International Order

52nd Käte Hamburger Lecture

Tuesday, 20th June 2023 | 18:00–19:30 CEST



Almost everyone agrees these days that the post-1945 international order is in crisis. Our order has been gripped by shock after shock in this millennium: 9-11, the Global Financial Crisis of 2007–8, the rise of populism, Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to name just a few.

The rules, norms and practices that evolved after the Second World War to limit conflict and facilitate cooperation are struggling to meet their original briefs and to adapt to new challenges, from preventing destabilizing uses of force to addressing global climate change. While many attribute this sense of rudderlessness to geopolitical power shifts and flagging US/Western leadership, such accounts do not fully explain why the liberal international order itself has lost legitimacy in the eyes of so many around the world. Our special section in International Affairs aims to explain this dynamic by showing that at multiple levels, our order is being challenged by polymorphic claims of justice that strongly motivate the aggrieved. We use the term polymorphic to describe the ways these differing claims for justice in the international system interact and intersect in complex ways. We identify six such claims: recognitional, distributive, institutional, historical, epistemic, and, finally, intergenerational.

Ayşe Zarakol is a Professor of International Relations at the University of Cambridge, where she also has an appointment as a Politics Fellow at Emmanuel College.

Her research is at the intersection of historical sociology and IR, focusing on East-West relations in the international system, history and future of world order(s), conceptualisations of modernity and sovereignty, rising and declining powers, and Turkish politics in a comparative perspective.

She is currently serving on the editorial team at International Organization as one of the two Associate Editors (for a five-year term, 2022-7).

Schedule of this event

18:00 CEST



18:10 - 19:00

52nd Käte Hamburger Lecture

Polymorphic Justice and the Crisis of International Order

Prof. Ayse Zarakol, University of Cambridge

Discussant: Prof. Dr Philip Liste, Political science with a focus on the politics of human rights, University of Applied Sciences, Fulda

19:00 - 19:30

Q&A with the audience


Participation is possible via Zoom.

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