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A World of Struggle:
How Power, Law, and Expertise Shape Global Political Economy
David Kennedy

Selected for The New York Times Book Reviews “What’s the Best Book, New or Old, You Read this Year?” 2016

Hardcover | 2016 | $29.95 | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691146782
312 pp. | 6 x 9 | 22 line illus. 3 tables.
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A Q&A with David Kennedy

A World of Struggle reveals the role of expert knowledge in our political and economic life. As politicians, citizens, and experts engage one another on a technocratic terrain of irresolvable argument and uncertain knowledge, a world of astonishing inequality and injustice is born.

In this provocative book, David Kennedy draws on his experience working with international lawyers, human rights advocates, policy professionals, economic development specialists, military lawyers, and humanitarian strategists to provide a unique insider's perspective on the complexities of global governance. He describes the conflicts, unexamined assumptions, and assertions of power and entitlement that lie at the center of expert rule. Kennedy explores the history of intellectual innovation by which experts developed a sophisticated legal vocabulary for global management strangely detached from its distributive consequences. At the center of expert rule is struggle: myriad everyday disputes in which expertise drifts free of its moorings in analytic rigor and observable fact. He proposes tools to model and contest expert work and concludes with an in-depth examination of modern law in warfare as an example of sophisticated expertise in action.

Charting a major new direction in global governance at a moment when the international order is ready for change, this critically important book explains how we can harness expert knowledge to remake an unjust world.

David Kennedy is the Manley O. Hudson Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School. He is the author of The Rights of Spring: A Memoir of Innocence Abroad; Of War and Law; and The Dark Sides of Virtue: Reassessing International Humanitarianism, and the editor of The Canon of American Legal Thought (with William Fisher) (all Princeton).


"David Kennedy's A World of Struggle describes our world more accurately than any book I have read this year. Kennedy offers no clear prescriptions. Yet he clarifies that understanding how this world of injustice and inequality came about is the essential first step toward a democratic alternative."--Pankaj Mishra, New York Times Book Review

"In his new book on how the world is ruled today through expert knowledge, Professor David Kennedy enters this continuing discussion in brilliant, pathbreaking, and trademark fashion. . . . Presented without theoretical encumbrance or jargon, A World of Struggle is a straightforward but sophisticated account that capitalizes on prior insight to achieve a unique and powerful vantage point. The superlative book wins its distinction not only because it constructs a novel theory but also because it applies that theory to how the globe as a whole is ruled--something no one in the canon of social theory has really done."--Samuel Moyn, Harvard Law Review

"Accounts of global politics are usually organized around time periods of settled order, during which powerful states laid down rules and established institutions. In this illuminating study, Kennedy tells a different story, in which contemporary international relations play out as a continuous struggle between technocratic elites around the world, in which nothing is ever settled and everything is negotiable."--G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs


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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments vii
INTRODUCTION Could This Be 1648? 1
PART I Political Economy and Struggle 21
CHAPTER 1 Political Economy: World-Making Stories 23
CHAPTER 2 Struggle: Toward a Cartography of Engagement 54
PART II Expertise 87
CHAPTER 3 World-Making Ideas: Imagining a World to Govern and Resist 89
CHAPTER 4 Expertise: The Machinery of Global Reason 108
CHAPTER 5 Expertise in Action: Rule by Articulation 135
PART III Law 169
CHAPTER 6 Law and the Global Dynamics of Distribution 171
CHAPTER 7 International Legal Expertise: Innovation, Avoidance and Professional Faith 218
CHAPTER 8 Legal Expertise in War 256
EPILOGUE Let It Be So 277
Notes 281
Index 293

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