Research event

The missiles of 1962: Entanglements in world politics and the power of uncertainty

Peter Katzenstein, Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, will lead a discussion of a draft chapter on nuclear politics from his upcoming book Entanglements in World Politics: The Power of Uncertainty. This session is part of the International Security Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for International Security.

For this session, participants will preview a draft chapter of Prof. Katzenstein's upcoming book and have the opportunity to discuss it in a session with him at the Hertie School. The chapter covers the politics of nuclear crises, one of the case studies which is part of a final volume of a trilogy dealing with uncertainty. The first volume dealt with power (Protean Power, Cambridge UP, 2018), the second with worldviews (Worldviews in World Politics, Cambridge UP, 2022). Both were edited volumes. Entanglements in World Politics: The Power of Uncertainty, the final volume, is single-authored by Prof. Katzenstein. 

The general argument for the book is as follows, with this session's chapter illustrating the argument in the case of nuclear crisis politics:

"Why are analysts of world politics, and social scientists more generally, so often caught by surprise by unexpected turns in world events? And why do they focus only on risk and exclude uncertainty from their investigations? The answer is Newtonian humanism – a worldview that provides the foundation for all of our conventional theories and models. We need to broaden our conventional worldview: new ways of thinking, what I term Post-Newtonianism and Hyper-humanism, alert us to the importance of the unexpected and the unpredicted in world politics."


  • Peter J. Katzenstein is the Walter S. Carpenter, Jr Professor of International Studies at Cornell University. His research and teaching lie at the intersection of the fields of international relations and comparative politics. Katzenstein's work addresses issues of political economy, and security and culture in world politics. His current research interests focus on power, the politics of regions and civilizations, America's role in the world, and German politics.