Civilization  book cover
1st Edition


Edited By

Brett Bowden

ISBN 9780415469654
Published August 13, 2009 by Routledge

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Book Description

Especially since the end of the Cold War, the concept of ‘civilization’ has been frequently deployed by those who seek to describe and explain the world in which we live. The events of 11 September 2001, and the subsequent ‘war on terror’, have further elevated the concept's use in the discourse of politics and international relations. There has, for instance, been feverish speculation and increasingly heated rhetoric about struggles ‘for civilization’ or a possible ‘clash of civilizations’, particularly between the West and the Islamic world. The term is used both to describe—and to cast value-laden judgements about—people, places, and events. It is often misinterpreted and misapplied, with sometimes dangerous consequences.

In response to the revival and misuse of ‘civilization’, this new four-volume collection from Routledge Major Works meets the need for an authoritative reference work to make sense of a vast and growing scholarly literature. It brings together canonical and the best cutting-edge research to provide a comprehensive overview of the origins, contested meanings, contextual applications, and general history of this critical concept.

Volume I (‘The Origins and Meaning of Civilization’) is made up of the best work from a distinguished line-up of political scientists, philosophers, historians, sociologists, and linguists. It outlines the origins of the concept and its many and disputed meanings. This first volume establishes the foundations on which much of the analysis included in the three subsequent volumes is based. Volume II (‘Civilization, Civilizations, Progress, and History’) includes a range of materials that intimately outline the relationship between the ideal of civilization and the idea of progress, including progress in the social, cultural, moral, scientific, and political realms. Research gathered here further examines how the concepts of civilization and progress in turn relate to the more general passage of history, particularly the idea of history with a purpose. Volume III (‘Civilization and its Others’) brings together the best scholarship to explore what civilization is not. The scholarship collected here comes from some of history’s most distinguished political scientists, leading international lawyers, anthropologists, and controversial ethnologists. Can one, for example, usefully draw a distinction between civilized, savage, and barbarian peoples? The final volume (‘Civilizational Relations: Past, Present, and Future’) enables researchers and students to navigate through the equally sensitive field of historical and contemporary relations between the world’s major civilizations or religio-cultural groups. It includes the catalysts of debates such as ‘the clash-of-civilizations thesis’ and the responses it has provoked.

With a full index, together with a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor, which places the collected material in its historical and intellectual context, Civilization is an essential work of reference. It is destined to be valued by scholars, students, and researchers of politics, political philosophy, and international relations—as well as those working in allied disciplines such as security studies and international law—as a vital research resource.

Table of Contents

Volume I: The Origins and Meaning of Civilization  Volume II: Civilization, Civilizations, Progress, and History  Volume III: Civilization and its Others  Volume IV: Civilizational Relations: Past, Present, and Future

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Brett Bowden is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra. He is co-editor (with Leonard Seabrooke) of Global Standards of Market Civilization (Routledge/RIPE Studies in Global Political Economy, 2006). Bowden’s essays have appeared in Counterpunch and Online Journal, while his commentary and opinion pieces have appeared in The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and Sunday Age in Melbourne and The Canberra Times.

His scholarly publications include:

Brett Bowden, The Empire of Civilization: a story about making History and influencing Peoples (Chicago: Chicago UP, 2008, forthcoming).

Brett Bowden and Leonard Seabrooke (eds), Global Standards of Market Civilization (London & New York: Routledge/RIPE Series in Global Political Economy, 2006).

Brett Bowden, ‘The River of Inter-civilisational Relations: the Ebb and Flow of Peoples, Ideas and Innovations’, Third World Quarterly, 28(7), 2007, pp. 1359-1374.

Brett Bowden, ‘Civilization and Savagery in the Crucible of War’, Global Change, Peace & Security, 19(1), 2007, pp. 3-16.

2008, ‘The Ebb and Flow of Peoples, Ideas and Innovations: Towards a Global History of Political Thought’, in Western Political Thought in Dialogue with Asia, T. Shogimen and C. Nederman (eds) (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, forthcoming).

Brett Bowden and Leonard Seabrooke, ‘Global Standards of Market Civilization’, in The Production and Reproduction of 'Civilizations' in International Relations, M. Hall and P.T. Jackson (eds) (New York & London: Palgrave, 2007), in press.

Brett Bowden, ‘Civil Society, the State, and the Limits to Global Civil Society’, Global Society, 20(2), 2006, pp. 155-178.

Brett Bowden, ‘The Colonial Origins of International Law: European Expansion and the Classical Standard of Civilisation’, Journal of the History of International Law/Revue d'histoire du droit international, 7(1), 2005, pp. 1-23.

Brett Bowden, ‘The Ideal of Civilisation: Its Origins and Socio-Political Character’, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 7(1), 2004, pp. 25-50.

Brett Bowden, ‘In the Name of Progress and Peace: the "Standard of Civilization" and the Universalizing Project’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 29(1), 2004, pp. 43-68.

Brett Bowden, ‘Global Civil Society’, in Routledge Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics, Martin Griffiths (ed.) (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 318-320.

Brett Bowden, ‘Standard of Civilisation’, in Routledge Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics, Martin Griffiths (ed.) (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 776-778.