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Special Issue: International and Colonial Thought of the British Empire

Call for papers
Centre Bentham

Revue d’études benthamiennes. Special issue edited by Hiroki UENO, Brian Chien-Kang Chen, and Michihiro KAINO, Winter 2022

  • 1 Pitts, J. (2009). A Turn to Empire. Princeton University Press.

In the last two decades, one of the most spectacular phenomena in contemporary research of the history of political thought and intellectual history is a turn to empire.1 This phenomenon has had an impact on the landscape of the doctrines, attracting more and more scholars devoted to the exploration of Enlightenment political thinkers’ observations, criticisms, or justification of the imperial governance and colonial policies of European nations from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century.

  • 2 Pitts, J. (2017). International relations and the critical history of International Law. Internatio (...)

Nourished by the traditional study of the history of political thought, scholars like Jennifer Pitts, Sankar Muthu, Uday Mehta, Duncan Bell, Richard Tuck, and David Armitage, among others, expand the horizon of research by situating important topics such as liberty, equality, justice, the legitimacy of governance and international law in the historical context of colonial governance and imperial expansion.2 They also shift scholars’ attention to subjects including civilization conflict and the oppression of colonial governance. This has inevitably challenged the established interpretations of political thinkers and provoked debates on the essences of political ideologies such as liberalism, republicanism, imperialism, and colonialism.

  • 3 See, for example, Rosen, F. (1983). Jeremy Bentham and Representative Democracy: a study of the Con (...)
  • 4 Pitts, J. (2009). A Turn to Empire. Princeton University Press; Muthu, S. (1999). Enlightenment ant (...)
  • 5 Engelmann, S. G., & Pitts, J. (2011). Bentham’s “Place and Time”. The Tocqueville Review/La revue T (...)
  • 6 Engelmann, S. G. (2011). Introduction. In S. G. Engelmann (Ed.), Selected Writings: Jeremy Bentham (...)

Among many other Enlightenment thinkers, for example, newly interpreted Jeremy Bentham can suitably be situated in this context. In the tradition of political thought, Bentham has long been interpreted as a rationalist constructivist and headstrong reformer who valued his political reform schemes more than the concern for national diversity and cultural autonomy. This received view was first confronted by revisionism in Bentham scholarship, which defends Bentham’s liberalism.3 It was also challenged by scholars of international political thought and intellectual history. For example, Jennifer Pitts and Sankar Muthu consider Bentham as central to the critique of imperialism and colonialism among Enlightenment thinkers, including Burke, Condorcet, Diderot, Abbé Raynal, Herder, Kant, and Adam Smith.4 Moreover, Stephen Engelmann and Jennifer Pitts challenge the pre-revisionist research by suggesting that Bentham’s theory of civilization manifests ‘a close appreciation of particular people and their particular conditions and practices in all of their variety and difference’.5 By disclosing the particularist dimension of Bentham’s political thought as endeavouring to reconcile his utilitarian scheme of legislation with cultural differences, scholars of international political thought not only demonstrate the fruitful outcome of revisionism (and post-revisionism)6 in Bentham studies but contribute to creating new opportunities for reassessing Enlightenment political thought with respect to its historical and theoretical connections with imperial politics in the nineteenth century.

This special issue of the Revue d’études benthamiennes aims to scrutinise the international political thought of Enlightenment by focusing on the imperial and colonial thought of the British Empire. The expected contribution is to supplement the current studies with theoretical and historical investigations in order to stretch and deepen our thinking of civilization and international law.

The following topics may be covered (but not limited to):

Utilitarianism and reform in the British Empire: Links between the metropole and colonies

International relations within Europe and colonial relations in East and West Indies

Philosophical radicals’ political plan in the age of empire

The American War for Independence and radical politics in the metropole

The Scottish Enlightenment on the British Empire and the imperial trade

The British Empire, viewed from the Continental Europe

The ‘Second Hundred Years’ War’, viewed from the both sides of Dover Channel

The law of nations and the cosmopolitan law: Eurocentrism and beyond

‘Transplanting Laws’ in the imperial and post-imperial world

International perpetual peace: Kantian and Benthamite approaches

Imperial governance, commerce, and market expansion: Political economy of Empire

Empires and republics: The mirror of the ancient antiquity and beyond

The clash of civilization: Western perceptions of non-Western societies in the imperial context

This special issue plan has been developed in collaboration with the East Asian Intellectual History Network (EAIHN). The EAIHN invited Brian Chen’s paper ‘Universalism or Particularism? Bentham’s Realistic Utopia’ in the 3rd Colloquium held at Toyo University, Tokyo, on the 13th of February, 2020; and Anne Brunon-Ernst’s paper ‘Migration, Punishment and the British Empire: Panopticon Prisons in Australia’ in the 5th EAIHN Online Seminar ''Trans-Pacific Perspective on the British Empire'' held at the University of Tokyo, on the 31st of March, 2021. The origin of this project lies in the discussions provided by both occasions.

Special Issue Guest Editors

Hiroki UENO, Keio University & Hitotsubashi University, Japan (h.ueno83@gmail.com)

Brian Chien-Kang Chen, National Chengchi University, Taiwan (ckchen@g.nccu.edu.tw)

Michihiro KAINO, Doshisha University, Japan (mkaino@mail.doshisha.ac.jp)

Schedule

28 February 2022: deadline for abstract submission. Please send abstracts of maximum 400 words to all the editors.

Manuscript submission due on 31 July 2022

Revised paper submission due on 31 October 2022

The special issue will be published in the winter of 2022 (or the beginning of 2023)

Submission guidelines

Submission guidelines are accessible via the hyperlink below

Guidelines for authors: https://journals.openedition.org/etudes-benthamiennes/220

Notes

1 Pitts, J. (2009). A Turn to Empire. Princeton University Press.

2 Pitts, J. (2017). International relations and the critical history of International Law. International Relations, 31(3), 282-298; Muthu, S. (2009). Enlightenment against Empire. Princeton University Press; Mehta, U. S. (2018). Liberalism and Empire: A study in nineteenth-century British liberal thought. University of Chicago Press; Bell, D. (2016). Reordering the World. Princeton University Press; Armitage, D. (2012). Foundations of Modern International Thought. Cambridge University Press; Tuck R. (2001). The Rights of War and Peace: Political Thought and the International Order from Grotius to Kant. Oxford University Press.

3 See, for example, Rosen, F. (1983). Jeremy Bentham and Representative Democracy: a study of the Constitutional Code. Clarendon Press. Schofield, P. (2006). Utility and Democracy: The political thought of Jeremy Bentham. Oxford University Press; Kelly, P. J. (1990). Utilitarianism and Distributive Justice: Jeremy Bentham and the civil law. Clarendon Press.

4 Pitts, J. (2009). A Turn to Empire. Princeton University Press; Muthu, S. (1999). Enlightenment anti-imperialism. Social Research, 959-1007.

5 Engelmann, S. G., & Pitts, J. (2011). Bentham’s “Place and Time”. The Tocqueville Review/La revue Tocqueville, 32(1), 59.

6 Engelmann, S. G. (2011). Introduction. In S. G. Engelmann (Ed.), Selected Writings: Jeremy Bentham (pp. 1–27). Yale University Press.

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