Call for Papers: IKGF Workshop “Knowing your Enemies: Intention Assessment and the Prospect of East Asian Security”

Erlangen, Germany
23rd – 24th Jun 2014
Deadline: 20th Jan 2014


Will history repeat the great conflicts of the twentieth century? Can mankind overcome the circularity of the anarchical international system? In the foundation of the science of international politics lies this utmost fear that civilizations will be fated to face a future of mass war and destruction. It is this dreadful version of the future that drives the commitment of International Relations to grasping the coming trends in world politics in a meticulous search for the systematic features of the past. Uncertainty has played a central role in the prophesies foretold by International Relations theories. Much of the debate between Realism and Liberalism concerns the chance that states can reduce their uncertainty about the intentions of Others to a level that no longer prevents widespread international cooperation. Constructivists have furthered this conversation by questioning the materialistic nature of international anarchy, the source of uncertainty from which positivists derive the picture of world politics as a recurrent, zero-sum game. These perspectives entail quite different perceptions of the collective fate of nations, and evoke contrasting senses of freedom with which national leaders could maneuver in the face of external constraints. Despite the strong emphasis on structure among mainstream IR theories, little attention has been paid to agent-based theorization of uncertainty, particularly how states assess one anothers intentions. The aim of this workshop is to advance scholarly understanding of intention assessment, the central component of how states cope with uncertainty and the future. In addition, under the general mission of the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities (IKGF), our project is also committed to fostering a constructive exchange between Social Science and Humanities with respect to research strategies towards the ultimate question of coping with the future in high politics. In terms of theoretical contribution, this workshop will examine and compare different perspectives on conceptualizing and measuring intention assessment in foreign policy opinion and decision-making. Empirically, the workshop will focus on East Asia, particularly the dynamics between China and the other great power players in the region since the early twentieth century. Given that the rise of China in recent years has already displayed certain destabilizing effect on the regional order, this workshop will contribute to the scholarly as well as policy discussions concerning diplomatic communication, strategic deterrence, and order maintenance in East Asia.


The scope of the workshop includes:

  • Theoretical approaches to intention assessment in international politics (rational choice theory, constructivism, psychology etc.)
  • The methodology of using and analyzing various data associated with the judgment of intentions by political elites and experts.
  • Historical cases of how states, particularly China and other Asia-Pacific players, assess each another’s strategic intention. The project is open to all periods of analysis since the early twentieth century. However, preference may be given to studies falling within one of the following periods or themes: the inter-War years, the Cold War, Sino-Japanese relations around the First World War, the Sino-Soviet alliance and split, the Sino-US rapprochement, and the great power relations in the Asia-Pacific region after the Cold War.



Proposals from applicants with a background of international relations or diplomatic history are particularly encouraged.
Submissions in the form of a 350-word (max.) abstract (in English) should be sent to Mingde Wang at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg: For any queries or for further information, please send an email to the same address.


Abstract submission deadline: January 20
Notification of acceptance: February 7
The paper submission deadline will be announced after notification.

Note: Successful applicants will receive full funding for travel costs.



Prof. Dr. Michael Lackner (IKGF)
Prof. Dr. Marc A. Matten (University of Erlangen)
Prof. Dr. Chi-yu Shih (National Taiwan University)
Prof. Dr. Tze-ki Hon (SUNY, Geneseo)
Mingde Wang M.A. (University of Erlangen)


 Download this announcement as PDF






Leave a Comment