UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

On barbarians : the discourse of ’civilization’ in international theory Salter, Mark B.


Unsatisfied with critical responses to Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations?" this dissertation attempts to trace two central elements of his argument. First, "On Barbarians" traces the evolution of the civilized/ barbarian dichotomy from its origins in the nineteenth century to its recent incarnations in International Relations theory. The relevance of Europe's imperial heritage is emphasized, along with certain thematic threads in popular discourse: demography, surveillance, and the distinction between popular and elite culture. The ubiquitous self/other dichotomy, which is central to political identity, has been understood in European imperial discourse to mean European civilization and barbaric others. This rhetoric remains powerful, even in current IR discourse. By reinscribing this civilized/barbarian dichotomy, Huntington in effect uses International Relations theory as a form of identity politics. Second, this dissertation analyzes the presence of culture and identity in the discipline of International Relations theory. Despite specific empirical considerations, Huntington's underlying interest in culture and identity is well-founded, which this dissertation attempts to demonstrate using material from the history of International Relations, post-colonial, and critical theorists. In sum, "On Barbarians" illustrates the critical benefit of studying culture and identity to LR through a critical examination of the civilized/barbarian discourse.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.

Usage Statistics