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The Image before the WeaponA Critical History of the Distinction between Combatant and Civilian$
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Helen M. Kinsella

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449031

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449031.001.0001

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Civilization and Empire

Civilization and Empire

Francisco de Vitoria and Hugo Grotius

(p.53) 3 Civilization and Empire
The Image before the Weapon

Helen M. Kinsella

Cornell University Press

This chapter primarily focuses on the discourses of civilization, as the history of the term contains profound implications for the principle of distinction. The definition of civilian as a “nonmilitary man or official” entered into common parlance in the nineteenth century, but its origins are attributed to its eighteenth-century definition, “one of the covenanted European servants of the East India Company, not in military employ.” The relationship this suggests among the institutions of colonization and practices of imperium (preeminently, the East Indies Company) and the elaboration of civilian is ignored in conventional histories of the laws of war, and in the disciplines of international relations and international law. The chapter thus examines the effects of this relationship—that is, the laws of war as a function of the Christendom of Europe before and during its imperial expansion—on the formulation of the principle of distinction.

Keywords:   discourses of civilization, civilian, colonization, laws of war, imperial expansion, international relations, international law

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