The Empire of Civilization: The Evolution of an Imperial by Brett Bowden

By Brett Bowden

The time period “civilization” comes with huge luggage, dichotomizing humans, cultures, and histories as “civilized”—or no longer. whereas the assumption of civilization has been deployed all through background to justify all demeanour of interventions and sociopolitical engineering, few students have stopped to think about what the concept that truly capability. right here, Brett Bowden examines how the assumption of civilization has knowledgeable our considering diplomacy over the process ten centuries.

            From the Crusades to the colonial period to the worldwide battle on terror, this sweeping quantity exposes “civilization” as a stage-managed account of historical past that legitimizes imperialism, uniformity, and conformity to Western criteria, culminating in a liberal-democratic international order. alongside the way in which, Bowden explores the range of confrontations and conquests—as good as these peoples and areas excluded or swept aside—undertaken within the identify of civilization. Concluding that the “West and the remainder” have extra commonalities than differences,this provocative and fascinating bookultimately issues the way in which towards an actual intercivilizational discussion that emphasizes cooperation over clashes. 

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French Origins of Civilisation The French historian François Guizot’s declaration that “civilization is a fact like any other,”10 susceptible to detailed study, is a little misleading in that it makes the task sound considerably more straightforward than it actually is. Even in Guizot’s own use of the term, in fact since its very inception, the word civilization has been imbued with a plurality of meanings. ” The word civilisation has its foundations in the French language, deriving from words such as civil (thirteenth century) and civilité (fourteenth century), all of which in turn derive from the Latin civitas.

Whether it was conceived in utilitarian or contractarian, rights-based or duty-based terms, this morality would be secular and humanist, and it would set universal standards for the assessment of human institutions. 39 introduction 19 What follows is a step-by-step account of how the project of creating a universal empire of civilization or, more accurately, a uniform empire of civilization has been pursued down through the centuries and continues to be pursued into the twenty-first century. It is a story about the crafting of teleological History and the influence and effect it has on peoples who are swept up or swept aside in the process.

The chapter explores how such missions were first undertaken in introduction 17 Europe and then exported to the Americas, honed further again in the “scramble for Africa,” and finally came full circle with the United States of America’s arrival as a formal imperial power in the late nineteenth century. ”38 During the era of the classical standard of civilization, which is effectively the colonial era, this may well have been so, but it is no longer necessarily the case. Chapter 7 opens the final section of the book, which, while engaging with more recent developments in world politics, demonstrates that the same set of ideas and concepts—civilization, progress, universality, and modernity—remain both salient and powerful when it comes to explaining and justifying policy making and decision making.

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