Skip to main content

The ICCS Distinguished Lecture Series continues on the 18th May with a talk from Professor Andrew Linklater, arguably one of the 50 key thinkers writing in the field of International Relations today. Professor Linklater will discuss his recent research on 'Violence, Civilization and Humanity'.

The idea of civilization permeates public discourse – as in the case of the construction of the ‘war on terror’ in the United States in the aftermath of 9/11. It frequently appears in media discussions of ‘savagery’ such as the beheadings of hostages by ‘Islamic state’. It has long been part of everyday discussions of the ‘barbarism’ of the death penalty. It is curious that a concept which first appeared in elite circles in France in the final part of the eighteenth century has become so fundamental to social attitudes to violence.  Sophisticated explanations of how this process occurred exist but they require further development.  It is important to understand how European state formation, empire and international society evolved as part of one overall process of civilization. The idea of civilization has fallen into disrepute in many circles in recent times because of its association with images of Western superiority and progress that brought misery to many.  In a break with Eurocentrism, academics have referred to civilizations in the plural rather than in the singular. The idea of a process of civilization can be constructed along similar lines – to describe, in an explicitly non-evaluative way, social and political transformations that have taken place found in different societies across human history.  This lecture argues that the idea of the civilizing process provides students of international relations with an important resource for explaining long-term developments in relations within and between human societies.  

Speaker: Professor Andrew Linklater (Aberystwyth University)

Recorded:Thursday 18th May 2015 (17:00-18:30)

Andrew Linklater joined Aberystwyth University as Woodrow Wilson Professor in International Politics in 2000, having previously been Professor and Dean of Postgraduate Studies at Keele University. Professor Linklater was involved in developing new linkages between political theory and international relations in the 1970s and 1980s, and then in forging connections between critical social theory and world politics. His most recent research investigates the problem of harm in world politics – specifically the problems that arise as societies acquire the capacity to harm and face the challenge of controlling that destructive capability. He is currently producing a major three volume study of the problem of harm in world politics which develops new connections between international relations, process sociology and world history.

To request a transcript please contact: Coss-communications@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

See more Seminars in the ICCS seminar series.