Caiban Butcher

Research Topic:

Nature’s Empire: A Global Intellectual History of Darwinian Internationalism
International Relations Network
Balliol College
DPhil International Relations

I am a DPhil student in International Relations, and my main interests are in the history of international thought, international order, and historical sociology (all particularly in the long nineteenth century). My present research focusses on Darwinism as a distinctive historical idiom of international theory.

More specifically, I aim to expand my MPhil thesis—which examined how Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection transformed ideas of war, ‘savagery’, and empire in late Victorian Britain—into a global intellectual history of Darwinian internationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Accordingly, I intend to excavate the Darwinian idiom in its various contexts and points of transmission, including Britain, France, Germany, the United States, China, and their colonial peripheries, exploring how the universal political language of Darwinian naturalism mutated as it crossed linguistic and political-economic boundaries. In its broadest implications, my research incises upon salient contemporary issues: namely, how exactly the category of ‘science’ should be understood as a criterion of theoretical rigour in the social sciences; and, in its emphasis on changing ideas of ‘nature’, how we might re-narrate our intellectual inheritance in the age of the Anthropocene.

Prior to my studies at Oxford, I graduated from the University of Cambridge with a BA (Hons) in Human, Social, and Political Sciences.


My research interests include:

  • Political thought and ideologies,
  • International ethics and global Justice,
  • Law and International law, History,
  • International order


I also teach undergraduates in the following IR papers:

  • International Relations (214)
  • International Relations in the Era of the Cold War (213)
  • International Relations in the Era of Two World Wars (212)
Caiban Butcher