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CPP Colloquium with Barbara Arneil; Domestic Colonies in Europe

Thursday 17 October 2019
CPP Colloquia 2019-2020
P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden

Domestic Colonies in Europe


The Center for Political Philosophy in Leiden is pleased to announce a talk by

Barbara Arneil (University of British Columbia)


In this paper, I examine three important examples of 19th century civil society organizations who saw themselves (rather than the state) as key to solving domestic social problems (petty crime, unemployment, poverty, vagrancy) produced by the urbanization and industrialization of major cities.  Their solution was the creation of agrarian colonies within the borders of their own states. The first case study is the Dutch Benevolence Society, under the leadership of Johannes van den Bosch, the second is the Paternalism Society in France supported by Alexis de Tocqueville and finally, the English Salvation Army under the leadership of William Booth.  The key was to segregate populations into country side colonies, engage them in agrarian labour on uncultivated soil, through which they and the land would be improved. Once trained to be industrious on the land, they were to return to society and become productive and morally rehabilitated citizens. The proponents of these kinds of ‘home colonies’ defended them as a more humane and economically sustainable alternative to state workhouses, and prisons. Such colonies are viewed by some as precursors to the 20th century European welfare state.  Currently the Dutch government is petitioning UNESCO to have van den Bosch’s Benevolence Colonies recognized as a world cultural heritage site because they view them to be the birthplace of the European welfare system. Ultimately I will argue this historical examination of philanthropists and civil society organizations seeking to solve poverty via non state colonies provide both a new way of thinking about the meaning of colonies and colonialism as well as a cautionary tale for contemporary actors seeking to create similar kinds of more humane solutions today. Creating such rural colonies beyond the gaze of society and the state for vulnerable populations often resulted in abuse as people within these colonies could act in the name of engineered improvement and with impunity. 


Barbara Arneil (Ph.D, London) is interested in the areas of identity politics and the history of political thought. She has published a number of books including John Locke and America (OUP, 1996), Feminism and Politics (Blackwell,1999); Diverse Communities: The Problem with Social Capital (CUP, 2006); Gender and Cultural Justice (Routledge, 2004); and Disability and Political Theory (CUP, 2016). Her most recent book Domestic Colonies (OUP 2017) won APSA’s David Easton Prize, CPSA’s C.B. MacPherson Prize and the BCPSA’s Weller Prize. Previous scholarly recognition includes the Harrison Prize (UK PSA award for best article), Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and UBC Killam Research and Teaching Prizes.

About the Center for Political Philosophy (CPP) Colloquia Series

The CPP is a collaboration between the Institute for Philosophy and the Institute for Political Science at Leiden University. Attendance of the Colloquia is free and there is no need to register. See CPP for more information. For further questions please contact dr. Wouter Kalf at w.f.kalf@hum.leidenuniv.nl

All are welcome!

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