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Empire by TreatyNegotiating European Expansion, 1600-1900$
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Saliha Belmessous

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199391783

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199391783.001.0001

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The “Lessons of History”

The “Lessons of History”

The Ideal of Treaty in Settler Colonial Societies

(p.243) 10 The “Lessons of History”
Empire by Treaty

Paul Patton

Oxford University Press

Despite the widespread recognition that treaties with indigenous peoples were instruments of empire, the idea of a treaty relationship continues to play a powerful role in the political imaginary of postcolonial societies. This chapter explores this ambivalence with reference to three settler societies established under British colonial rule: Australia, Canada, and Aotearoa/New Zealand. It contrasts the history of treaty making and the nonobservance of treaties with the present function of the treaty ideal in projects for reconciliation, conflict resolution, and constitutional reform. The Canadian philosopher James Tully provides the most detailed account of the treaty relationship as a normative ideal for a genuinely postcolonial constitution. The chapter concludes with a critical examination of the normative basis for Tully’s treaty ideal and argues that the conditions for a genuinely postcolonial liberal society are the same as for any society with diverse cultural, moral, and religious traditions.

Keywords:   treaty ideal, normativity, settler societies, James Tully, cultural diversity, postcolonial liberal society

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