Eric B Haney
History International order Nationalism Political thought and ideologies Norms, legitimacy and justification
My DPhil research is motivated by the puzzle of the seemingly homogenous system of nation-states, given the normalcy and durability of diversity in global order. As one thread of an answer, my thesis studies the interactions of colonial officers, civil servants, local collaborators and native 'agitators’ as they create and negotiate the boundaries between modern and customary authority, gradually reinforcing a system in which claims to legitimacy are made and heard in the language of national culture.
Using a combination of primary materials, secondary literature, and evolutionary game theory, I argue that the post-1857 switch to indirect rule opened a space for intermediaries on all sides to contest rule in terms of custom and authenticity. To historical debates, I find that Indian and African elites had more agency than is commonly assumed, exploiting racist assumptions built into British rule by creating “information panics” and leveraging them to bring greater areas of governance under the newly made realm of the traditional. To IR theory, I offer a new account of ordering which stresses neither centre-out expansion nor homogenous socialization, but rather a process of un-directed strategic choice through which the international system evolved, and may do so again in the future.