Introduction: Where Things Stand and What Happens Next

  • John Peterson
Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics book series (PSEUP)


‘May you live in interesting times’ may seem an innocuous and even benevolent wish. The 2010s are nothing if not interesting times, given the explosion of new technologies (think of 3-D printing and the internet of things), path-breaking business models (such as Google or Alibaba) and predictions of a global power shift. Yet, the ‘interesting times’ aspiration one might offer another actually originated as a Chinese curse, used to damn its recipient to endure uncertain and dangerous times. In Chinese culture, which has been influenced by the enormous and painful upheavals that have historically beset the world’s largest civilization, it is obvious why the phrase ‘may you live’ might be a curse. That the phrase loses a great deal of true meaning in its translation to English might be viewed as a metaphor for how international relations (IR) are in transition. By one view, enormous, uncertain, dangerous and potentially painful consequences loom for the international order. Alternatively, changes afoot internationally could lead to a more prosperous, interconnected and harmonious international society.


European Union International Monetary Fund Foreign Policy Global Governance International Order 
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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Peterson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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