Indigenous Peoples, Civilization and the Expansion of International Society: An 'Inter-Societal Perspective

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Pearcey, Mark Edward




Until recently, the expansion of international society has been depicted as the linear projection of European norms and values into the non-European world; specifically, Westphalian norms and values. Increasingly however, critical English School scholars – amongst others – have begun to critique this perspective, noting that the evolution of international society has been constituted through the interaction between expanding European empires and the non-European peoples they came into contact with. Edward Keene (2002), for instance, argues that the norms and values that underpin international society are the product of imperialism. Problematically however, many of these accounts tend to overlook the long-term negative effects of these norms and values, focusing instead on how they established the foundations for a cosmopolitan society of states. This dissertation reflects critically on these types of arguments, through an historical analysis of Indigenous-state relations. Specifically, it asks: What role have state-Indigenous relations had in constructing the colonial legacies of the discourse on civilization? And, what are the implications of this for understanding the relationship between international and world society in International Relations theory? Through this analysis, this dissertation contribute to IR theory in three ways: 1) by supplementing the English School’s focus on intra-societal relations with greater attention paid to ‘inter-societal’ relations; 2) by establishing a space for dialogue between the English School and Postcolonialism; and 3) by ‘decolonizing’ English School theory, challenging its Eurocentric and state-centric assumptions.


International law
International relations




Carleton University

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Political Science

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Theses and Dissertations

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