University of Connecticut

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Geography Colloquium - Barry Zellen

Friday, November 9, 2018
12:20pm – 1:15pm

Storrs Campus
AUST 434

At the Interface of Tribe and State: The "Fourth Image" in World Politics - Tribal Homelands, Expanding States, and the Foundations of International Order

While the Arctic is perceived as a remote and isolated region, much the way Borneo and other remote regions are perceived in the West, it has in fact been part of a globally-integrated world economy for well over three centuries. Rather than directly address the Arctic, this talk will instead examine some commonalities shared by remote regions from the Arctic to the Tropics that experienced a similar wave of colonial expansion, globalization, and economic integration with the world economy, where tribal peoples remain(ed) demographically predominant, and where political order has come to depend on a reconciliation between tribal and state interests. A global comparative look at remote regions - from Borneo to Baffin Island - presents us with not only a new model for state formation and expansion rooted in a balancing of state and tribal interests, but an understanding of an enduring but often overlooked pillar of international order that suggests that the world system has been (and continues to be) defined not only by states and their economic, military and diplomatic powers as is commonly presumed by theorists of international relations, but also by tribal peoples in the more remote frontiers and interiors of former colonial states whose homelands were ultimately absorbed, but whose original peoples were neither displaced nor annihilated (as experienced in Europe and much of the Americas), but who instead became part of the very constitutional fabric of the polities that emerged during state formation. While neorealist IR theory was rooted in its Trinitarian structure of Individual, State and World System (the "three images"), there is in fact a "fourth image" (which can, more often than not, be described as tribal or neotribal) that has long been overlooked by western IR theorists, one that becomes increasingly obvious when examining remote regions far from the Westphalian core, where states and tribes have struck an enduring (though not always equal) balance. This paper will discuss these commonalities, and some preliminary insights gained from looking comparatively at the Arctic and Tropics - and how beyond the Westphalian core of Europe and the conquered indigenous territories of the Americas, world politics and international order are, have been, and will continue to be defined by the reconciliation of tribe and state, and a balancing of state and tribal interests.


Scott Stephenson []

Geography Department (primary), Anthropology Department, History Department, Human Rights Institute, Political Science, UConn Master Calendar

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