Watson Institute Scholars Address Global Gathering in Slovenia

In a series of plenary roundtables, Watson Institute scholars addressed the central themes of last month’s World International Studies Conference in Slovenia, “What Keeps Us Apart, What Keeps Us Together? International Order, Justice, Values.”

Institute Professor James Der Derian, Adjunct Professor Thomas J. Biersteker, and Adjunct Professor Ann Tickner joined some 800 social scientists gathered from around the world at the  second-ever World International Studies Conference, sponsored by Central and East European International Studies Association (CEEISA), World International Studies Committee (WISC), and University of Ljubljana.

As described by CEEISA President Zlatko Šabi?, a past visiting scholar at the Watson Institute, “The WISC is about providing a place in which scholars from all over the world ‘compare notes.’ It is about opening the doors of opportunity for scholars from the developing world. … It is about facilitating cross-cultural and cross-regional interactions and networks.”

In his roundtable presentation Der Derian explored the relationship of global values to new forms of global power.  Rather than asserting maximalist ethics based on a universal conception of right and wrong, Der Derian made the case for minimalist ethics emerging from a new regionalism and a heteropolarity of power.  He highlighted the role of global media, as a catalyst of change, value disseminator, and main battlefield of global politics. Der Derian interpreted global values as the product, not the producer of ethical ways of being, in which we recognize the very necessity of others for understanding and living with ourselves.

Biersteker described ongoing research on the “Dialectics of World Orders,” suggesting that there is no unitary world order, such as an international society of states with recognized rights and duties, but a co-existence of multiple world orders. His examples included the co-existing American liberal internationalism and Islamic transnational world orders but can extend to “ethnic groups, nations, firms, parties, interest groups, class or status groups, armies, churches, communities, genders, states, and empires,” he said.

“Given the complexity and contradictions inherent in our contemporary world – with its overlapping, inter-penetrating, and simultaneously co-existing world orders – we need an analytical approach that enables us to comprehend them,” Biersteker said.

Der Derian was also featured in an extensive interview in the popular local newsweekly Mladina. The interview included an analysis of the foreign policies of the presidential candidates, his research in global security and global media, and a discussion of “virtuous war,” his term for what is perceived as “technological and ethical superiority in which computer simulation, media dissimulation, global surveillance, and networked warfare combine to deter, discipline, and if need be, destroy the enemy.”


The Der Derian interview is available, in Slovenian, here.
More on Der Derian’s concept of virtuous war is available here.
Read conference papers here.

Share Your Perspective