Essays and Papers

This is where I’ve decided to put a few things I have written for various classes over the years. They don’t really fit the main format of my blog and are too long for it really anyway, but here they are if anyone wants to read them. Because these are drafts that were saved on my personal PC they aren’t the final versions I handed in in every case but they are pretty close.

Here’s the first one, a paper comparing the wars in Kosovo and Georgia and what they can tell us about why humanitarian intervention is sometimes undertaken without UNSC approval. I think that the answers to this are quite obvious, but a lot of academia involves pointing out the obvious.

Two Wars, One Way? A Process-Tracing Comparison of NATO’s Kosovo Intervention and the Russo-Georgia War.

When Russia went to war with Georgia over South Ossetia in 2008 one of its principal justifications was to make a comparison with Operation Allied Force (OAF), NATO’s campaign against Serbia over Kosovo nine years earlier. As Russia had vehemently opposed OAF this was ironic to say the least, but it did bring the issue of humanitarian intervention without a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) mandate into focus again. Rather than focusing on the arguments around the validity of these two cases, as most of the literature on this subject does, this study will instead compare and contrast the processes and events that led to external intervention and the subsequent conduct and actions of the interveners. This will address the issue of whether there exists a certain set of conditions that drive a state or group of states to engage in an action nominally for the good of another group of people, without a mandate from the UNSC. The study will seek to provide an answer to the “how” question of unilateral intervention rather than the more common “why.” It will do so based on the assumption that states will always create a justification for their actions that is valid for themselves, therefore a study of the processes leading up to a self-justified intervention and the actions of the state within it will provide a useful analysis for developing a theory of unilateral humanitarian intervention and its consequences for the international community.

Full text here: Kosovo_Ossetia_intervention

….and here’s the second. This one is about China’s official statements on its relationship with Africa and what that can tell us about China’s current place in the world. Basically China’s narrative is that it is a developing state which was also a victim of Western colonialism and thus is an equal with Africa, unlike Western powers. There are obviously a few problems for China with the perpetuation of this narrative, not the least of which is the obvious difference in power between China and African states.

Power, Development and Discourse: a study of China’s position on its engagement with Africa.

As the People’s Republic of China continues to grow economically it has sought resources to fuel its development. A vital region of the world in this respect is Africa, where China has rapidly become a major investor and aid donor. This burgeoning relationship between China and sub-Saharan African states has generated a lot of discussion in the West about China’s motives and the effect that this might have on Western interests in the region. China’s own discourse on the subject emphasises that China too is a developing nation and that the relationship between the parties is one of co-operation, mutual benefits, friendship and reciprocity. While China is clearly not as economically developed as Western states it is definitely in a significantly different position to the African states with which it engages. This raises the question of why China seeks to present this as being the case. This paper will analyse China’s 2006 document on its African policy using Michel Foucault’s ideas of power and discourse in order to understand why China’s African policy is presented to both the international community and China’s domestic population in this way. The paper will then consider the broader implications of this representation for China, Africa, and the world.

Full text here:China_Africa_discourse

…and here’s another. This one is about how Edward Gibbon Wakefield presented Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand) in his plans for colonisation of the country. It’s not technically on the subject of international relations but it does tie into some of the themes about nationalism, national myths and identity which I have been exploring recently in this blog.  Because Wakefield was heavily influenced by the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers like Adam Smith, it also covers some of their ideas about the relationship between the means of production in a society and its political structure. Although there are some obvious flaws in the way this was presented I do think there is some merit to these ideas. Personally, I  find the first contact/pioneer/colonial part of my country’s history fascinating, and the impacts of the actions of a few people at this time are still being felt today. However there is a tendency within New Zealand to oversimplify the narrative about the dynamics of the early interactions between Maori and Europeans (pakeha) and I think that hinders our understanding of contemporary race relations. Knowing our past is vital for understanding our present and building our future. (I know that sounds cheesy as crap but I honestly believe it is true). Anyway, here is the essay:

“Civilising a barbarous people by means of a deliberate plan…”
The influence of the Scottish Enlightenment stadial model of history on Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s The British Colonisation of New Zealand…

Edward Gibbon Wakefield is unarguably one of the most important figures in the history of New Zealand and as such has been the subject of much scholarly debate. Through his founding of the New Zealand Company he was instrumental in shaping British colonial policy towards New Zealand and his thoughts on colonisation were to have a lasting impact on New Zealand society. In his book “The British Colonisation of New Zealand; being an account of the particulars, objects, and plans of the New Zealand Association” published in 1837 he laid out the methods and processes by which British interests could be served in New Zealand through the creation of a system of land sales and the building of an idealised society. The place of the Maori in this construct is somewhat complicated. These “thoroughly savage people” nonetheless “seem not inferior to any race” and “have a remarkable capacity for becoming civilized.” In this essay I will argue that Wakefield’s construction of Maori is a direct result of the influence of Scottish Enlightenment thinking on his theories, particularly Adam Smith and William Robertson’s stadial model of history. In this view, all peoples of the world are at some stage on a linear path of economic and political development. By placing Maori and British societies in this framework Wakefield was able to both impose a paternal role for the British over the Maori and to play down the threat of Maori to a colonial project by emphasising their potential to become civilised. In the following pages I will trace the influence of the Scottish Enlightenment model of stadial history through Wakefield’s construction of Maori in “The British Colonisation of New Zealand” and consider how and why this plays a part in his wider model of colonisation.

Full text here:wakefield_maori


2 responses to “Essays and Papers

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