Prof. Dr. Oliver Kessler

Holder of the Professorship for International Relations (Faculty of Economics, Law and Social Sciences)


Lehrgebäude 1 / room 0140

+49 361 737-4969

Office hours

on appointment

Visiting address

Nordhäuser Str. 63
99089 Erfurt

Mailing address

University of Erfurt
Faculty of Economics, Law and Social Sciences
Internationale Beziehungen
Postfach 90 02 21
99105 Erfurt

Prof. Dr. Oliver Kessler

Prof. Dr. Oliver Kessler

My research focuses on the intersection of international political economy (IPE), global social theory and international theory of law and politics – with particular interest in the promises and limits of interdisciplinary research. It reconstructs the limits and boundaries of these fields by exploring the connectivities to economic sociology, social systems theory, heterodox economics, and history of economic and political thought more generally and uses these inquiries to highlight conceptual shortcomings, disciplinary biases and avenues for inter-disciplinary research.

For the last five years, in particular the notions of risk and uncertainty have guided my research in these fields. From early onwards, my research is interested in understanding the social, spatial and temporal underpinnings of financial practices and their regulations. Especially with the current crisis, the idea that a one size fits all approach to regulation is incomplete at best and counterproductive at worst. It shows that a more evolutionary and dynamic understanding of regulation and the consequences of the crisis are needed.

Also, the recent crisis indicates that we need to better understand the dynamics that have led to the de-coupling of financial from real markets. A process that is often called ‘financialisation’. Financialisation has moved to the core of my research for the last two years, especially in the context of a German network on ‘politics of financialisation’ (convened with Andreas Nölke) and the Cost Action 0902 on the current crisis (co-chaired with Charlie Dannreuther).

Curriculum Vitae


Academic Positions

Since 2012

Professor for International Relations (University of Erfurt)


Professor for History and Theory of International Relations (University of Groningen, NL)


Professor of International Relations (University of Erfurt, Acting)


Professor of International Political Theory (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Acting)


Research and Teaching Associate for International Relations (University of Bielefeld)


Post-Doc Fellow at the Institute of World Society Studies (University of Bielefeld)


PhD Fellow - Research Network Politics-Law-Philosophy, Munich




Habilitation (University of Bielefeld) Title: "International Relations and the Problem of World Society"


PhD in International Relations  Thesis: The International Political Economy of Risk


Visiting Fellow at the Eric Castrén Institute for International Law (Helsinki University)


Visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School (Harvard University)


Master of Arts Program in International Political Economy (University of Warwick)


Undergraduate Studies in Economics and Political Science (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich) Degree of Diplomvolkswirt (MSc Economics)


Current Memberships

  • International Studies Association
  • British International Studies Association
  • Deutsche Vereinigung für Politische Wissenschaften (Germany)
  • European Sociology Association
  • European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy (EAEPE)


Reviews for

  • Cambridge Journal of International Affairs
  • Competition and Change: Journal for Global Business
  • Contemporary Political Theory
  • Cultural Political Economy
  • European Political Science Review
  • European Journal of International Relations
  • Göttingen Journal of International Law
  • Geopolitics
  • International Sociology
  • International Studies Quarterly
  • International Political Sociology
  • Journal of International Relations and Development
  • Leiden Journal of International Law
  • Review of Social Economy
  • Review of International Studies
  • Sociological Theory
  • Security Dialogue
  • Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen
  • Cambridge Book Series
  • Routledge Book Series


Recent publications

Kessler, Oliver/Steele, Brent/Gould, Harry (i.E.).(Eds.).(2018): „Tactical Constructivism as Method.“ London: Routledge.

Kessler, Oliver/Arfi, Badredine (2018): „Social Theory Going Quantum-Theoretic? Questions, Alternatives and Changes“. in: Millennium: Journal of International Studies 47(1): 67-73.

Kessler, Oliver/dos Reis, Filipe (i.E.): „Legitimacy“, in: Jean d’Aspremont /Sahib Singh (eds.): Concepts of International Law: Contributions to Disciplinary Thought. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Kessler, Oliver/Steele, Brent (2018): „On Constructivism, Realism and Contingency“, in: Mariano E. Bertucci/Jarrod Hayes/Patrick James (eds.): Constructivism Reconsidered: Past, Present, and Future. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Kessler, Oliver/Arfi, Badredine (2018): „Forum Introduction: Social Theory Going Quantum-Theoretic? Questions, Alternatives and Changes“, in: Millennium: Journal of International Studies 47(1): 67-73.

Kessler, Oliver (2018): „The Mind-Body Problem and the Move from Supervenience to Quantum Mechanics“, in: Millennium: Journal of International Studies 47(1): 74-86.

Kessler, Oliver/Wilhelm, Benjamin (2017): „Shadow Banking, German Banking and the Question of Political Order“, in Anastasia Nesveteilova: Shadow Banking: Scope, Origins and Theories. London: Routledge. 

Kessler, Oliver/Dannreuther, Charles (2017):„Racialised Futures. On Finance: Risk and Slave Trades", in: Millenniu: Journal of International Studies 45(3) 356 –379.  

Kessler, Oliver (2016): „The Carpet Crawlers: Quanten in den Internationalen Beziehungen“, in: Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen 23(2): 207-221. 

Kessler, Oliver (2016): „The Contingency of Constructivism. On Norms, the Social and the Third“, in: Millennium: Journal of International Studies 45 (1): 43-63.  

Kessler, Oliver (2016): „The Failure of Failure: on Constructivism, the Limits of Critique, and the Socio-Political Economy of Economics“, in: Millennium: Journal of International Studies 44 (3): 348-369.

Kessler, Oliver/dos Reis, Filipe (2016): „Constructivism and the Politics of International Law“, in: F. Hoffmann/A. Orford (eds.): Oxford Handbook oft he Theory of International Law. Oxford University Press.

Kessler, Oliver/Steele, Brent (2016): "Introduction: Constructing IR: The third generation", in: European Review of International Studies, Vol. 3, No. 3 (2016). Leverkusen: Budrich UniPress.

Kessler, Oliver (2015): "Observing Visions of Man", in: Annette Freyberg-Inan/Daniel Jakobi: Visions of Man. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kessler, Oliver (2015): "Ignorance and the Sociology of Economics", in: Linsey McGoey/Matthias Groß: Routledge Handbook of Ignorance Studies. London: Routledge.

Kessler, Oliver (2014): "What Price Culture", in Bob Jessop/Christoph Scherrer/Brigitte Young (eds): Financial Cultures. London: Routledge.

Kessler, Oliver (2013): “Constructivism as an Approach to Global Political Economy?”, in: Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik 6(1 Supplement): 31–49.

Kessler, Oliver/Werner, Wouter (2013): “Expertise, Uncertainty and International Law: A Study of the Tallinn Manual on Cyberwarfare”, in: Leiden Journal of International Law 26(4): 793–810.

Kessler, Oliver/Kratochwil, Friedrich (2013): “Functional differentiation and the oughts and musts of international law”, in: Mathias Albert/Barry Buzan/Michael Zürn (eds.): Bringing Sociology to International Relations: World Politics as Differentiation Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 159–181.

Kessler, Oliver/Wilhelm, Benjamin (2013): “Financialization and the Three Utopias of Shadow Banking”, in: Competition & Change 17(3), S. 248–264.

Kessler, Oliver/Herborth, Benjamin (2013): "Recognition and the constitution of social order", in: International Theory 5(1): 155–160.


  • Kessler, Oliver/Dannreuther, Charles (forthcoming): SME Policy in Europe and the Political Economy of Risk. London: Routledge.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2008): Die Internationale Politische Ökonomie des Risikos: am Beispiel der Asienkrise. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.

Edited Books and Special Issues

  • Kessler, Oliver/Sinclair, Timothy, eds. (i.E.): The Political Economy of the World Economic Crisis. London: Routledge.
  • Kessler, Oliver, ed. (2012): "Critical Realism", in: Review of International Studies 38(1): 187–274. (with contributions by Afri, Badredine/Michel, Torsten/Weber, Martin/Herborth, Benjamin/Kessler, Oliver/Wight, Colin)
  • Kessler, Oliver, ed. (2011): Die Politische Ökonomie der Weltfinanzkrise. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Hall, Rodney Bruce/Lynch, Ceceila/Onuf, Nicholas, eds. (2010): On Rules, Politics and Knowledge: Friedrich Kratochwil, International Relations, and Domestic Affairs. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Kessler, Oliver, ed. (2010): "So Close Yet So Far Away? International Law in International Political Sociology", in: International Political Sociology, 3(4): 303–321. (with contributions by Werner, Wouter/Klabbers, Jan/Kratochwil, Firedrich/Onuf, Nicolas/Liste, Philip)
  • Kessler, Oliver, ed. (2009): "Die Subprime Krise als Krise des 21. Jahrhunderts?", in: Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen 10(1): 103–175. (with contributions by Bieling, Hans-Jürgen/Young, Brigitte/Nölke, Andreas/Kessler, Oliver)
  • Kessler, Oliver, ed. (2009): "Interrogating the Current Financial Crisis", in: International Political Sociology, 4(4): 449–468. (with contributions by Sinclair, Timothy J./Hall, Rodney Bruce/Seabrooke, Leonard/Tsingou, Eleni/Best, Jacqueline/Leander, Anna)

Journal Articles

  • Kessler, Oliver (2013): “Der Konstruktivismus als Ansatz der Globalen Politischen Ökonomie?”, in: Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik 6(1 Supplement): 31–49.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Werner, Wouter (2013): “Expertise, Uncertainty and International Law: A Study of the Tallinn Manual on Cyberwarfare”, in: Leiden Journal of International Law 26(4): 793–810.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Wilhelm, Benjamin (2013): “Financialization and the Three Utopias of Shadow Banking”, in: Competition & Change 17(3): 248–264.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Herborth, Benjamin (2013): Recognition and the constitution of social order, in: International Theory 5(1): 155–160.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2012): "Sleeping with the enemy? On Hayek, the current economic crisis and constructivist thought in IPE", in: Review of International Studies 38(2): 275–299.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2012): "World Society, Social Differentiation and Time",in: International Political Sociology 6(1): 77–94.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2012): "Introduction: To be or not to be: Critical Realism in International Thought", in: Review of International Studies 38(1): 187–189.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2012): "On logic, intersubjectivity, and meaning: is reality an assumption we just don’t need?", in: Review of International Studies 38(1): 253–265.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Guillaume, Xavier (2012): "Everyday practices in international relations: people in organizations", in: Journal of International Relations and Development 15(2): 110–120.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2011): "Artificial Horizons", in: International Political Sociology 5(1): 87–91.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2011): The Same as it Never was? International Law in Times of Uncertainty, Review of International Studies 37(5): 2163-2182.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2011): "Beyond Sectors, before the world: Finance, Security and Risk", in: Security Dialogue 42(2): 197–215.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2010): "Internationale Beziehungen: Fehlentwicklung oder fehlende Entwicklung der Internationalen Beziehungen?", in: Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen 17(2): 368–375.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2009): "Die Subprime-Krise und die Frage nach der Finanzmarktstabilität", in: Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen 16(1): 161–175.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2009): "Einleitung: Die Subprime-Krise - wirklich eine Krise des 21. Jahrhunderts?", in: Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen 16(1): 103–105.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2009): "Toward a Sociology of the International? International Relations between Anarchy and World Society", in: Journal of International Political Sociology 3(1): 87–108.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2009): "Toward a Logic of Social Systems?", in: International Political Sociology 3(1): 132–136.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2008): "Is Risk Changing the Politics of International Legal Argumentation?", in: Leiden Journal of International Law 21(4): 863–884.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2008): "Uncertainty, Rationality, and the Study of Social Institutions", in: Review of Social Economy 66(4): 501–523.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Daase, Christopher (2008): "From insecurity to uncertainty: risk and the security paradox", in:  Alternatives 33(2): 211–232.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Albert, Mathias/Stetter, Stephan (2008): "Of Communication, Order, and Conflict" (with Mathias Albert und Stephan Stetter), Review of International Studies 34 Supplement 1: 43–67.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Werner, Wouter (2008): "Extra juridical killing as risk management: the breakdown of legal rationalities in the fight against terrorism", Security Dialogue 39(2): 299–322.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Daase, Christoph (2007): "Knowns and Unknowns in the 'War on Terror'", in: Security Dialogue, 38(4): 411–434.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Helmig, Jan (2007): "Border, Order and Regionalisation", in: Geopolitics 12(4): 570–587.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2007): "From Agent and Structures to Minds and Bodies", in: Journal of International Relations and Development 10(3): 243–272.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Helmig, Jan (2007): "Space, Boundaries and the Problem of Order: A View from Systems Theory", in: Journal of International Political Sociology 1(3): 240–256.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2007): "Authority, Ambiguity and Risk: the changing politics of global finance", in: Review of International Political Economy 14(2): 357–370.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2007): "Performativity and the Boundaries of Economic Sociology", in: Current Sociology 55(1): 110–125.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2006): "Social Contingency: An Avenue for Engaging Regulation Theory with Systems Theory", in: Competition and Change 10(2): 221–238.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2005): "Nichtwissen und die Etablierung von Governance-Regimen", in: WeltTrends 13(46): 71–82. 

Book chapters

  • Kessler, Oliver/Kratochwil, Friedrich (2013): Functional differentiation and the oughts and musts of international law, in: Mathias Albert/Barry Buzan/Michael Zürn (Hg.): Bringing Sociology to International Relations: World Politics as Differentiation Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, S. 159–181.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Albert, Mathias (2013): Die Transformation von Recht und Politik globaler Sicherheit, in: A. Fischer-Lescano/P. Mayer (Hg.), Recht und Politik globaler Sicherheit, Frankfurt a.M.: Campus.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2013): Die Krise als System? Die diskursive Konstruktion von 'Risiko' und 'Unsicherheit', in: Jens Maeße (Hg.): Ökonomie, Diskurs, Regierung. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, S. 57–76.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2013): Systemtheorie, in: Joscha Wullweber/Antonia Graf/Maria Behrens (Hg.): Theorien der Internationalen Politischen Ökonomie. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, S. 117–132.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2010): On Norms, Communication and the Problem of Practice, in: Kessler, Oliver/Hall, Rodney Bruce/Lynch, Ceceila/Onuf, Nicholas (eds.): On Rules, Politics and Knowledge: Friedrich Kratochwil, International Relations, and Domestic Affairs. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Herborth, Benjamin (2010): The Public Sphere, in: Robert A. Denemark (ed.), The International Studies Encyclopedia, John Wiley & Sons.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2010): ‘Do we need a Practice Turn in IR?’, in Oliver Kessler and Nick Onuf (eds.): Rules, Norms and Reasons: A Festschrift for Fritz Kratochwil. Palgrave.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2010): ‘Risk and Security: Two avenues for the assessment of Danger,’ in Peter Burgess (ed.): New Security Studies. Routledge.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2009): Logic, Intersubjectivity and Reality: is logic of relevance for understanding politics?, in Paulo Estevez (ed.): Meta-theoretical Discussions in International Relations (in Portuguese).
  • Kessler, Oliver (2009): ‘Systems Theory between Explaining and Understanding’ (with Friedrich Kratochwil), in Mathias Albert, L.-E. Cederman and Alexander Wendt: Macrotheorising in International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2009): ‘Beyond the Economic Bias: the social construction of economic risks,’ in Colin Hay and Andreas Gofas (eds.): The Ideational Turn in International Relations. London: Routeldge.
  • Kessler, Oliver/Dannreuther, Charles (2008): ‘The State in Social Economics’ (with Charles Dannreuther), in Wilfred Dolfsma (ed.): Companion to Social Economics. Edward Elgar.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2008): ‘The Limits of Bayesian Thought to the Study of Economic Institutions,’ in Wolfram Elsner and Hardy Happani (eds.): Advances in Evolutionary Institutional Econoimcs. Edward Elgar.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2008): 'Unsicherheit, Ungewissheit und Risiko: Temporalität und die Rationalität der Finanzmärkte', in Andreas Langenohl und Kerstin Schmidt-Beck (eds.): Die Markt-Zeit der Finanzwirtschaft. Metropolis.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2007): ‘Revolutions and Democracy: On the Historical Semantics of Political Change' (with Benjamin Herborth), in Anke Bartels (ed.): Revolutions: Concepts, Discourses, and Practices of Revolutionary Action in Our Time. Lang.
  • Kessler, Oliver (2006): ‘Die Konstruktion von Expertise: eine systemtheoretische Rekonstruktion?’, in Gunter Hellmann (ed.): Wissenschaft und Beratung in der Wissensgesellschaft. Nomos.