The word ‘civilization,’ coined in the 18th century, has a complex history, multiple meanings, and considerable baggage.1 It has been used to describe a process, destination, benchmark, fact, or an ideal that evaluates the social self-understanding of the ‘civilized’ in reference to those they considered ‘barbarian’, ‘savage’, or ‘uncivilized’. Civilization is a key concept to understand the imagined values of 19th-century political communities and their relation to international law. As with other core 19th-century concepts, civilization was closely related to...
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