University of Nottingham Ningbo China
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A Common Culture? Religion as the Foundation of International Order

07 November 2014 (14:00-17:00)

The School of International Studies is pleased to invite you to a Lecture presented by Dr William Bain, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore.

About the Seminar

Martin Wight, the influential international theorist, argues that all international societies presuppose a common culture.  Subsequent theorists challenge this view, given the manifest diversity exhibited by contemporary international politics, arguing that international society has progressively outgrown its Christian and, more recently, its European heritage.  International society is, on this view, a truly inclusive arrangement that transcends the parochialism of particular culture, religion, or civilisation.  The importance of this question of common culture is prompted by the rise of powerful and wealthy non-Western powers, China above all else.  I contest the conventional view, arguing that fundamental concepts, such as anarchy and the balance of power, appeal to unacknowledged Christian theological presuppositions.  My purpose, therefore, is to excavate the foundations of these presuppositions, to bring them to the forefront of our thinking about international relations, with a view to re-problemastising Wight's initial proposition. Only then will be possible to theorise adequately the problem of difference and the possibilities of mutual accommodation in contemporary international society.

About the Speaker

William Bain is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore.  He has held previous appointments as the University of Glasgow, the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and as visiting professor at the Free University of Brussels.  His research interests fall in the areas of international political theory, the English School, and the history of political thought.  He is the author of several books and articles on the theory of international society, including Between Anarchy and Society: Trusteeship and the Obligations of Power (OUP 2003).  He is associate editor of the journal International Relations.  Professor Bain is currently working on a research monograph which is provisionally entitled Political Theology of International Order.