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Department of Political Science

Inequality in International Relations

The second edition of the UZH TOPIQ – Zurich Talks on the Politics of Inequality will take place from September to October 2022. The second round of talks focuses on the Inequality in international relations. All talks in the fall semester 2022 will take place online via Zoom, while the Keynote Lecture will be held in a hybrid format that allows both in-person and online participation. Recordings will be made available on this page. UZH TOPIQ will return with a new program in Fall 2023.

Talk Synopses

September 21
Sara Hobolt | London School of Economics, University of Zurich
Keynote Lecture: Tribal Politics. Polarization along New and Old Identity Divides
Social identities play a crucial role in shaping political allegiances and patterns of conflict. Most are rooted in long-standing societal divides, but every so often new identities emerge and reshape the politics of a nation. In this lecture, Professor Sara Hobolt examines the emergence and consequences of a new identity divide in Britain that emerged in response to the 2016 Brexit referendum. The schism between Leavers and Remainers continues to shape British politics and society even today.


September 26
Björn Bremer | Max Planck Institute Köln
Protecting wealth in an unequal global political economy: Do ethnicity and class matter?
Increasing wealth inequality in the global political economy is partly driven by government policies that seek to mitigate the impact of deep economic crises. Policies that protect the value of household assets often increase wealth inequality and, especially in multi-ethnic societies, can reinforce structural disadvantages of minorities. In this talk, Björn will outline how these policies are assessed by the public, and how people’s perceptions of their effects on “class” and “ethnic” inequality shape policy preferences.


October 10
Tuuli-Anna Huikuri | University of Zurich
Inequality of Bargaining Power in the International Investment Treaty Negotiations
The international investment treaty regime is characterized by global inequality of bargaining power. Asymmetric negotiations between developed and developing countries have created a system of global governance which highly favours foreign investors by granting them unprecedented powers to bring investment claims against host states in international tribunals. In this talk, Tuuli-Anna will examine the dynamics of exit from and the demands for renegotiation of these international agreements, as the underlying inequalities in bargaining power have begun to shift.


October 24
Gabi Spilker | University of Konstanz
The unequal consequences of climate change for migration, conflict and protest in the Global South
Climate change poses an existential threat to many countries around the world, especially in the Global South. In response to changing climatic conditions, people increasingly choose to migrate while mainly staying within the borders of their countries by moving from rural areas to urban centers. In this talk, Gabriele discusses the potential consequences of these migration flows: How does climate-induced migration affect inequality and under which circumstances does it lead to protest and potentially social conflict?