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Inventing Collateral Damage: The Changing Moral Economy

This workshop is held under the auspices of Jessica Whyte’s (WSU) Australian Research Council DECRA Project “The Invention of Collateral Damage and the Changing Moral Economy of War” (DE160100473). It is hosted and supported by the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Western Sydney University. Thanks to Ryan Calder, School of Humanities and Communications Arts, for assistance with the organization of the workshop

All welcome but registrations are essential. Please RSVP by the 15th of November to Jessica Whyte,


Revisionist Liberalism: Global Justice, Liberal Internationalism and the Politics of Deflection – Prof Jeanne Morefield

Tuesday, 21 November, 4 -5:15pm

Geoffrey Roberson Boardroom, Female Orphan School, Building EZ Parramatta South Campus, WSU

This paper investigates the relationship between dominant political theory approaches to global justice today and the discourse of liberal internationalism, a school of thought which has historical connection to American imperialism. The paper begins with a careful exploration of the way global justice scholarship quietly mutes history and reifies liberal approaches to global problems. It then moves on to a closer investigation of the discursive and ideological connections between global justice scholarship and the liberal internationalism of “Neo-Wilsonians” like John Ikenberry and Michael Blake, and liberal imperialists like Michael Ignatieff. The paper briefly historicizes liberal internationalism and then explores the way its contemporary adherents couple an idealist language of human rights and global ethics (gleaned from global justice scholarship) with “realist” arguments about the necessity of America hegemony. The result is not simply an unseeing of the ‘collateral damage’ associated with military aggression but a simultaneous celebration of violence in American history that is deflected and reframed as permanent exceptionalism. The paper begins and ends by considering the way liberal internationalist critiques of “historical revisionism” circulate today in a global moment characterized by heightened xenophobia and bellicose foreign policy. Ultimately, I make the case for a critical orientation to history and international politics that relocates imperial conflict from the periphery to the center of analysis.

Jeanne Morefield is Professor of Politics at Whitman College and a Professorial Fellow at Australian Catholic University whose work engages the historical and contemporary intersection of political theory and international relations with a particular focus on British and American imperialism. Her books include Empires Without Imperialism: Anglo-American Decline and the Politics of Deflection (Oxford, 2014) and Covenants Without Swords: Idealist Liberalism and the Spirit of Empire (Princeton, 2005). She has published articles in Political Theory, History of Political Thought, Theory and Event, and other journals as well as numerous chapters for edited volumes on the history of international and imperial thought. Jeanne is currently Co-President of the Association for Political Theory and is writing a book entitled, Empire as Method: Edward Said and Political Theory.


Please see the Collateral Damage Workshop Program for more information on the event

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