Thursday, July 02, 2009

New book re-examines structures of international relations
University of Auckland alumnus Professor Stephen Chan has authored a new book that reworks the structures of contemporary international relations.
Press Release - University of Auckland.

The End of Certainty (Zed Books, United Kingdom) combines Professor Chan’s academic analysis with his experiences in diplomacy, his understanding of the world as a poet and writer, and his desire to seek new, effective solutions to the problems affecting the modern world. From Obama to Osama and everything separating them, The End of Certainty draws on vast literary, philosophical, historical and political references to lead the way towards a new, progressive structure of international relations.

Stephen Chan earned a Masters in Political Studies from The University of Auckland, where he was taught by the department’s inaugural Professor, Robert Chapman. Before leaving New Zealand in 1976, Chan became well-known for his radical literary and political ideals.
He is currently Professor of International Relations in the University of London, and foundation Dean of Law and Social Sciences at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Hailed as having written an “impossible book”, Professor Chan takes readers of The End of Certainty on a witty rollercoaster ride that is part magical realism, part workable future for the planet. He says he owes the beginnings of the project to two University of Auckland professors.

“Professor Michael Neill of English, now Emeritus, loaned me copies of the Gnostic Gospels. The mystical, almost Zoroastrian parallel to the canonical gospels really helped me appreciate how parallel but different narratives may seek to converge - but don't completely meet - even when they talk about the same things,” says Professor Chan, who delivered the University’s annual Chapman Lecture in 2007.

“The other influence was Professor Andrew Sharp of Political Studies, again now Emeritus. He gave me permission to continue my work in subjectivity, in ontology, and against a universal epistemology. The intellectual graciousness of these scholars has been pivotal. And I hope they will forgive the way I have tried to express what they helped start in my book.”

The author of numerous scholarly and fiction books, as well as poetry collections, Stephen Chan is respected internationally for his books on African politics, including Robert Mugabe: A Life of Power and Violence (2003) and Grasping Africa (2007). He was part of the Commonwealth Observer Group that monitored Zimbabwe’s transition to independence in 1980. He has also worked as an international civil servant in the UK and Africa, and as an adviser to government ministries in Africa and to international councils and universities. Professor Chan is also a martial arts specialist and is involved with programmes to bring the oriental martial arts to poor African urban areas.
The End of Certainty is available in New Zealand bookstores via special order or online at

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