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From realism to “ultrasociality”: international relations scholar rewrites the history of international cooperation

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Are nation states truly self-interested political communities vying for dominance in an anarchic world, or are they able to set aside the drive to compete for the greater good? Or perhaps better put: in an era of international striferising authoritarianism and looming climate catastrophe, how is international cooperation still possible? These questions—and others—form the foundation of a new book by Mai’a Cross, dean’s professor of political science, international affairs and diplomacy, and director of the Center for International Affairs and World Cultures at Northeastern University. The book, “International Cooperation Against All Odds: The Ultrasocial World,” challenges many of the old verities of so-called realism—the dominant theory in international relations scholarship that posits that nations are driven solely by power and status competitions, the result of which is more war, isolationism and stasis on many shared global threats. 

Drawing from a range of disciplines in both the hard and soft sciences, Cross builds a novel framework for understanding how breakthroughs in international cooperation persist despite what she describes as a “cultivated myopic vision of global conflict.” She claims that politicians, world leaders and the media paint a disproportionately gloomy picture of world affairs—one that misses the forest of international progress for the trees of individual “crises of the moment.” 

Continue reading at Northeastern Global News.

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