The Standard of Civilization

Asymmetries of the International System

Dierk Schmidt, Die Teilung der Erde - Conférence de Berlin #2, 2005, Courtesy of Dierk Schmidt and KOW, Berlin

How do inequality and global power asymmetries get inscribed in international systems of state and law? How did the imperial-era divisions between “civilized” and “barbaric” remain in place–albeit with a new vocabulary of “good governance”, “transparency,” and “human rights”? Drawing on documents, this history of continuity will be subjected to a close reading. An installation by the artist Christian Nyampeta allows for opposing readings of historical processes. Examinations of the international framework governing war, trade and finance lay bare the structural inequality built into our global system, as well as the far-reaching consequences of existing concentrations of power.

With Antony T. Anghie, In Koli Jean Bofane, Slavenka Drakulić, Susan George, Avery F. Gordon, Ramzi Kassem, Brigitta Kuster, Lawrence Liang, Christian Nyampeta and David Scott