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International Law and EmpireHistorical Explorations$
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Martti Koskenniemi, Walter Rech, and Manuel Jiménez Fonseca

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795575

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795575.001.0001

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Revolution, Empire, and Utopia

Revolution, Empire, and Utopia

Tocqueville and the Intellectual Background of International Law

Chapter:
(p.177) 8 Revolution, Empire, and Utopia
Source:
International Law and Empire
Author(s):

Julie Saada

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795575.003.0009

This chapter shows how the ambivalent relationship between liberal arguments and the justifications of empire played out internationally by examining the work of Alexis de Tocqueville and Edgar Quinet, both writing during the colonization of Algeria. Tocqueville, the liberal-conservative, became republican-progressive when he wanted to defend the Empire, illustrating how liberal theory can become imperialist when it integrates elements drawn from classical republicanism. Quinet, the anti-clerical republican, supported a colonial imperialism based upon a philosophy of history that gave a specific role to Islam and the French Revolution, considering them as historical realizations of utopias. From a methodological viewpoint, understanding the links between international law and empire requires an analysis of the circulation of ideas between distant, and even opposed, doctrines. It requires also to confront global theories (liberalism, imperialism) within an empirical context in order to understand how they are diffracted through the contextualized positions of situated actors.

Keywords:   Tocqueville, international law, colonialism, imperialism, liberalism, Quinet, French colonization, Algeria, Conquest, Democracy (in America/in France)

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