The Subject of War, From Salamanca to Sydney Cove
Australia's colonisation by Britain (from 1788) was accomplished without the 'consent' of the Indigenous inhabitants, or the negotiation of any kind of treaty. The violence of the colonisers against the Indigenous inhabitants was never officially acknowledged to be a form of 'conquest' or 'war'. This was in part due to the fact that the Indigenous inhabitants of Australia were not regarded by the colonisers to be subjects against whom a war could be waged. Australia's early colonisation offers an example of the conceptual myopia in the development of European discourses of international relations. Within these discourses, warfare was seen as an increasingly disciplined form of violent engagement between the subjects of sovereign states. European thinkers thus came to see 'the subject' of war as a self-disciplined, rights-bearing individual inhabiting a civil space underwritten by relations of private property and guaranteed by the sovereign state. In this way, the subject of war was differentiated from the undisciplined violence of non-subjects - those in rebellion against their sovereign, or those who were without sovereignty altogether. By the eighteenth century, this constellation of concepts was framed by notions of civilisation which tied the subject of war to an historicised account of the difference between supposedly 'civilised' societies and so-called 'savage' peoples. In this paper I will argue that notions of civilisation are central to our understanding of the development of IR discourse.
Global Change, Peace and Security
Political Theory and Political Philosophy