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Title: 'Warlord' : a discursive history of the concept in British and American imperialism, 1815-1914 and 1989-2006
Author: Stanski, Keith Raymond Russell
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 2905
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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The renewed interest in empire, particularly in its British and American variants, has brought into sharper relief the difficulties both metropoles faced in projecting order in the global south. Far from cohesive entities, the British and American empires tried to manage territories that defied many of the political, economic, and legal systems, as well as normative and moral understandings, that enabled their imperial ascendancy. Despite a considerable literature about how metropoles comprehended these frustrated imperial plans, limited insights can be found into the way Britain and the United States coped with the influence of war in the uneven expansion of order. This challenge is brought into focus by examining one of the most direct formulations of the relationship between war and order in US and British imperialism, namely the concept of warlord. The concept’s history, it is argued, provides a glimpse into the far-reaching influence cultural constructions of war had in how US and British policymakers, journalists, and advocates conceived of and projected order in the non-European world. Such influential understandings also inspired overstated conclusions about the degree to which both imperial powers could realise their visions of order in the global south. Drawing on discursive and historical methods, the dissertation develops a conceptual framework that distils the core features of ‘warlords’ in the US and British imperial imaginaries. This conceptual approach is used to revisit some of the most formative encounters with colonial and contemporary ‘warlords’, as captured in British and American policy debates, political commentary, and popular culture, during two highpoints in British and American imperial history, 1815-1914 and 1989-2006 respectively. These arguments bring to the forefront how instead of an ancillary part of conclusions about the inferiority of non-European cultures, as suggested in much of the post-colonial literature, notions of war conditioned many of Britain and the United States’ enduring conception of and strategies for managing the uneven development of order in the global south.
Supervisor: Nabulsi, Karma Sponsor: Clarendon Fund ; Jeanne Sauvé Foundation ; Nuffield Politics Group ; Overseas Research Student Awards Scheme
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: War (politics) ; Political science ; International studies ; History of War ; order ; war ; warlords ; empire ; United States ; Britain ; colonial discourse ; Abyssinia ; Afghanistan ; Burma ; Liberia ; Somalia ; Sudan ; intervention ; small wars ; international relations