The Mounties’ contribution to settler colonialism: Colleen Bell, Kendra Schreiner, ‘The International Relations of Police Power in Settler Colonialism: The “civilizing” mission of Canada’s Mounties’, International Journal: Canada’s Journal of Global Policy Analysis, 73, 1, 2018, pp. 111-128


Abstract: In contrast to narratives by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the United Nations, and some scholars that international police assistance is a relatively recent phenomenon, we argue that Canada’s Mounties have always been international. To develop this argument, we examine three dimensions of police power in international relations historically and with respect to the role of the Mounties specifically. First, we discuss the concept of police power and its central role in giving rise to another concept: civilization. The concept of civilization gained considerable traction as a rationale for police power in Britain’s colonies, including Canada. Second, we turn to a discussion of imperial policing in the colonial settlement of Canada involving an elaborate array of “civilizing” techniques, some of which are still in operation today. Since Confederation, the Mounties have been involved in wide-ranging state-building missions with the purpose of securing Canadian sovereignty, in part through land and resource acquisition, and the denial of Indigenous sovereignties. Third, we show that the Mounties’ contributions to settler colonialism played a role in shaping international relations from the twentieth century. In particular, the Mounties were central in constituting Canada as a member of the globally dominant Anglo-Saxon community of states. In conclusion, we suggest that current international policing practices in the global periphery are not novel phenomena, but are rooted in international police powers that made possible the colonial settlement of Canada.

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