The Standards of Civilization and the Production of Statehood

Part of the Middle East Today book series (MIET)


This chapter considers the relationship between the history of state formation in Europe and the conceptualization of statehood in political science, international relations, and development studies. It argues that the state, as it is defined, framed, and conceptualized in universal terms, exists as a standard of civilization. This chapter further contends that the conceptualization of statehood emerges from a particular European history that provides the reference point for the nineteenth-century standard of civilization and contemporary practices of development and state-building. By considering the conceptual development of the state as being historically unique, it is possible to question the application of a supposed universal framework of the state to the global south, and specifically, the post-colonial state. Developed in the nineteenth century, the standard of civilization was a tool that was used to create a divided world, justifying practices of imperialism and colonialism.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies, School of Languages, Cultures, and SocietiesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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