Barbara Arneil wins APSA David Easton Award

Barbara Arneil, Head of Department and Professor, has been awarded the 2018 David Easton Award from the American Political Science Association (APSA). APSA’s Foundations of Political Theory Section bestowed the honour for her recently published book, Domestic Colonies: The Turn Inward to Colony (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Arneil shares the award with co-winner, Clare Chambers, for her book, Against Marriage: An Egalitarian Defence of the Marriage-Free State (OUP, 2017). The APSA award citation is detailed below.

The David Easton Award is given for a book that broadens the horizons of contemporary political science by engaging issues of philosophical significance in political life through any of a variety of approaches in the social sciences and humanities.

Past winners include: Margaret Kohn, Michael Shapiro, Joan Cocks, Joseph Carens, Tracy B. Strong, Bonnie Honig, Wendy Brown, Quentin Skinner, Sheldon Wolin, Nancy Rosenblum, Rogers Smith, Robert Putnam, and Jürgen Habermas.

This is the second major award for Domestic Colonies. The Canadian Political Science Association awarded the 2018 C.B. MacPherson Prize in Political Theory to Arneil for this book. Read more about the CPSA award here.

APSA’s citation:

Clare Chambers’ Against Marriage: An Egalitarian Defence of the Marriage-Free State and Barbara Arneil’s Domestic Colonies: The Turn Inward to Colony won recognition from our committee because these two books exhibit logical rigor, clarity of structure, lucidity of thought, and crisp prose. Just as important, they tackle politically significant problems: in the first case, the liberal democratic state’s sanctification of one form of intimate social relations at the expense of others, and in the second case, the challenges that Western domestic colonies in the modern past pose for understandings of colonialism in the present. The two books deftly situate themselves against the backdrop of larger literatures on, respectively, marriage and colonialism, and they carve out provocative positions that draw on those literatures while moving beyond their existing limits of thought and action. As all true provocations should do, they are sure to stimulate new analyses and arguments in response to the ideas they lay out. 

Barbara Arneil presents an analysis that contributes conceptual innovation to current debates on colonialism and imperialism, innovations that are at once suggested and bolstered by her careful archival and secondary research into “domestic colonies.” The cases of domestic colonialism that Arneil highlights are agrarian labour colonies, farm colonies, and anti-capitalist or otherwise radical utopian communities that were created in North America and Europe, putatively to empower the idle poor, the disabled, and religiously, politically, and/or racially marginalized minority groups. In her investigations into such colonies, which in North America were implicated in settler colonial practices but are not reducible to those practices, she offers an exemplary model of how detailed historical work can drive conceptual rethinking in political theory. In analyzing the domestic colony as a technique of power underwritten by a logic of (often but not always coerced) improvement rather than a logic of exploitative domination, her work controversially disentangles imperialism and colonialism as a prelude to complicating our understanding of colonization, decolonization, and the postcolonial. While explicitly acknowledging the grave injustices of settler colonialism and imperialism in comparison with domestic colonialism, Arneil reveals the benefits of situating imperialism, settler colonialism, and domestic colonialism as sometimes intersecting and sometimes contrasting nodes of a complex “transnational colonial network.”  In this way, her work deepens both our grasp of the colonial past and re-problematizes our relation to colonialism’s long aftermath and continuing presence.


Barbara Arneil (Ph.D, London) is interested in the areas of identity politics and the history of political thought. As the author of John Locke and America (OUP, 1996) and many related articles, she has a specialization in the intersection between liberalism and colonialism. She is also interested in gender and political theory, publishing Feminism and Politics, Oxford Blackwell, 1999 (translated into Chinese and published by Oriental Press, 2005). In it she examines how gender shapes the definition and scope of ‘politics’. She has written a critique of social capital from the perspective of inclusive justice, entitled Diverse Communities: The Problem with Social Capital, Cambridge University Press, 2006 and has published a co-edited anthology entitled Sexual Justice/Cultural Justice, Routledge, 2006. Her most recent work is in the areas of social trust and diversity, global citizenship and cosmopolitanism, the role of disability in political theory and domestic colonies. She has just published a co-edited book entitled Disability and Political Theory  with Cambridge University Press, 2016 and Domestic Colonies: The Colonial Turn Inward, Oxford University Press, 2017. Scholarly recognition includes the Harrison Prize (UK Political Studies Association award for best article published in Political Studies), Rockefeller Foundation Residential Fellowship in Bellagio Italy, shortlisted for the 2008 C.B. MacPherson Prize (Canadian Political Science Association award for best book published in political theory) UBC Peter Wall Early Career Scholarship,  UBC Killam Research Prize, 2018 C. B. McPherson Prize and co-winner 2018 David Easton Award (American Political Science Association Foundations of Political Theory book award).