The Empire Of Civilization: The Evolution Of An Imperial Idea

Paperback | March 25, 2014

byBrett Bowden

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The term “civilization” comes with considerable baggage, dichotomizing people, cultures, and histories as “civilized”—or not. While the idea of civilization has been deployed throughout history to justify all manner of interventions and sociopolitical engineering, few scholars have stopped to consider what the concept actually means. Here, Brett Bowden examines how the idea of civilization has informed our thinking about international relations over the course of ten centuries.

            From the Crusades to the colonial era to the global war on terror, this sweeping volume exposes “civilization” as a stage-managed account of history that legitimizes imperialism, uniformity, and conformity to Western standards, culminating in a liberal-democratic global order. Along the way, Bowden explores the variety of confrontations and conquests—as well as those peoples and places excluded or swept aside—undertaken in the name of civilization. Concluding that the “West and the rest” have more commonalities than differences,this provocative and engaging bookultimately points the way toward an authentic intercivilizational dialogue that emphasizes cooperation over clashes. 

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The term “civilization” comes with considerable baggage, dichotomizing people, cultures, and histories as “civilized”—or not. While the idea of civilization has been deployed throughout history to justify all manner of interventions and sociopolitical engineering, few scholars have stopped to consider what the concept actually means. H...

Brett Bowden is senior lecturer in politics at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:March 25, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022614240X

ISBN - 13:9780226142401

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

A Note on Spelling

1 Introduction: Guizot’s Question: Universal Civilization?


Part One: Civilization, Progress, and History: Universals All?


2 The Ideal of Civilization: Its Origins, Meanings, and Implications

3 Civilization and the Idea of Progress

4 The Notion of Universal Civilization: One End for All?


Part Two: The Art and Science of Empire


5 The Expansion of Europe and the Classical Standard of Civilization

6 The Burden of Civilization and the “Art and Science of Colonization”


Part Three: New Barbarism, Old Civilization, Revived Imperialism


7 New Barbarism and the Test of Modernity

8 The “New Realities” of Imperialism

9 Conclusion: The Future of Intercivilizational Relations


Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“This fascinating book traces the concept to the Enlightenment, when it evolved along with Western visions of progress and modernity as many Europeans looked at the rest of the world and saw the task of civilizing ‘backward’ peoples as ‘the white man’s burden.’ . . . In his most provocative claim, Bowden argues that today’s ‘new imperialism’—military interventions, nation building, and financial intrusions led by the International Monetary Fund—draws on deeply embedded assumptions about Western standards of civilization.”