Bruce is an intellectual historian whose work traces the entanglement of European political thought with the experience of empire and colonisation, focussing on the Early Modern and Enlightenment periods. Bruce’s research seeks an understanding of concepts by bringing different fields of historical enquiry into productive conversation, most notably colonial history, histories of sound and noise, the history of science and medicine, and the history of ideas and political thought. His previous research on European perceptions of Indigenous government, the conceptual history of asymmetric warfare, and the meanings of civility, savagery and civilisation have appeared in a wide range of journals. Bruce’s research has been supported by a competitively awarded Discovery grants and a Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council. His current research (with Linda Andersson Burnett) focusses on the conceptual prehistory of race in the teaching of medicine and moral philosophy, and in colonial travel during the Scottish Enlightenment.


  1. Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science), Australian National University, 2000. Thesis Title: The Government of Peace: Liberal Civilization and the Government of Peace. (Awarded with minor grammatical alterations).

  2. Master of Arts by research (Political Science), 1994. Flinders University. Thesis Title: Intersubjectivity and Self-Determination.(Awarded with minor grammatical alterations).

  3. Honours (First Class) in Political Studies, 1989. Flinders University. Thesis Title: The State and Anarchist Theory.

  4. Bachelor of Arts, Double Major in History and Politics, 1988. Flinders University of South Australia

Other Publications


1.    S. E. Amirell, H. Hagerdal, and B. Buchan (eds.), Piracies in World History, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, (under contract, 2020).

2.    P. Denney, B. Buchan, D. Ellison and K. Crawley, (eds.) Sound, Space and Civility in the British World, c. 1700-1850, London: Routledge, 2019.

3.    B. Buchan and L. Hill, An Intellectual History of Political Corruption, Palgrave, New York, 2014.

4.    B. Buchan, The Empire of Political Thought: Indigenous Australians and the Language of Colonial Government, Pickering and Chatto, London, 2008.

Guest Editorships of journal special issues:

5.    B. Buchan and L. Andersson Burnett, History of the Human Sciences, 32 (4), 2019. Special Issue on Knowing Savagery: Ethnographies in Circulation.

6.    B. Buchan, M. Gibson and A. Howell, Cultural Studies Review, 24 (2), 2018. Special Issue on The Ethics of Troubled Images.

7.    D. Ellison and B. Buchan, Republics of Letters, 5 (2), 2018. Special Issue: On Noise.

8.    B. Buchan and D. Ellison, Cultural Studies Review, 18 (3), 2012. Special Issue: On Noise.

9.    B. Buchan, M. Gibosn and D. Ellison, Cultural Studies Review, 17 (1), 2011. Special Issue on The Death Scene: Reflections on Mortality.

Chapters in Edited Collections:

10.  Buchan, ‘All at Sea: Subjects, Sovereigns and the Piracy of Political Thought’ in Amirell, Hagerdal & Buchan (eds.), Piracies in World History, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, (under contract, 2020).

11.  Buchan, ‘The Civil Noise of Empire’ in Denney, Buchan, Ellison & Crawley (eds.), Sound, Space and Civility in the British World, c. 1700-1850, London: Routledge, 2019.

12.  Buchan and Andersson Burnett, ‘The Edinburgh Connection: Linnaean Natural History, Scottish Moral Philosophy and the Colonial Implications of Enlightenment Thought’ in Hodacs, Nyberg & van Damme (eds.), Linnaeus, Natural History and the Circulation of Knowledge, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2018: 161-186.

13.  Buchan, ‘Between Anarchy and Security: John Locke on Piracy and Lacedaemonian Liberty’, in Jun (ed.), A Companion to Anarchism and Philosophy, Leiden: Brill,2017:  51-80.

14.  Buchan, ‘Enlightenment Perspectives on War and Peace’ in Shogimen & Spencer (eds.), Visions of Peace: Asia and the West, London, Ashgate, 2014: 119-138.

15.  Buchan, ‘Subjects and Sovereigns: Hobbes and Hume on the History of Security’, in Asbach (ed.), Der moderne Staat und «le doux commerce»– Politik, Ökonomie und internationale Beziehungen im politischen Denken der Aufklärung, Baden-Baden, Nomos, 2014: 91-116.

16.  Buchan, ‘Changing Contours of Corruption in Western Political Thought, c. 1200-1700’ in Hindess & Larmour (eds.), Corruption: Expanding the Focus, ANU E-Press, Canberra, 2011: 73-96.

17.  Buchan, ‘Adam Ferguson, the 43rd and the Fictions of Fontenoy’ in Heath & Merolle (eds.), Adam Ferguson: Philosophy, Politics and Society, London, Pickering and Chatto, 2009: 25-44.

18.  Buchan, ‘Images of Asia in European Enlightenment Political Thought, c.1600-1800’ in Nederman & Shogimen (eds.), Western Political Thought in Dialogue With Asia.  Lanham, Lexington Books, 2008: 65-86.

19.  Buchan, ‘Civilization in a Savage Land: Australian Colonisation and Enlightenment Thought’ in Gare & Ritter (eds.), Making Australian History: Perspectives on the Past Since 1788, Melbourne, Thomson, 2007: 17-24.

Refereed Articles:

20.  Buchan, ‘Scottish Medical Ethnography: Colonial Travel, Stadial Theory, and the Natural History of Race, c. 1770-1805’, Modern Intellectual History, (forthcoming 2019).

21.  Buchan and Andersson Burnett, ‘Australia and the Anatomy of Race’, History of the Human Sciences, 32 (4) (forthcoming 2019).

22.  Buchan and Andersson Burnett, ‘Knowing Savagery: Humanity in the Circuits of Colonial Knowledge’, History of the Human Sciences, 32 (4) (forthcoming 2019).

23.  Buchan, ‘God damn ye gentlemen, I am as good a man as the best of you…’: Pirate Oaths, Mutinous Murmurings and British Counter-Civilities at Sea in the Eighteenth Century’, Cultural History(forthcoming 2019).

24.  Buchan, ‘Sight Unseen: Our Neoliberal Vision of Insecurity’, Cultural Studies Review, 24 (2), 2018: 130-149.

25.  Buchan, ‘Civility at Sea: From Murmuring to Mutiny’, Republics of Letters, 5 (2), 2018. http://arcade.stanford.edu/rofl_issue/volume-5-issue-2

26.  Buchan, ‘Terrible Security: Bi-focal Visions of Horror’, Arena Journal, 47/48, 2017: 10-32.

27.  Buchan, ‘Pandours, Partisans and Petite Guerre: Two Dimensions of Enlightenment Discourse on War’, Intellectual History Review, 23 (3), 2013: 329-347.

28.  Buchan, ‘Listening for Noise in Political Thought’, Cultural Studies Review, 18 (3), 2012: 36-66.

29.  Buchan & Ellison, ‘Speaking to the Eye’, Cultural Studies Review, 18 (3), 2012: 4-12.

30.  Buchan, “Duo pezzi in su la piazza…’: The Death of the Body Politic in Western Political Thought’, South Atlantic Quarterly, 110 (4), 2011: 901-915.

31.  Buchan, Gibson & Ellison, ‘Reflections on the Death Scene’, Cultural Studies Review, 17 (1), 2011: 3-14.

32.  Buchan, ‘Dying for Security’, Cultural Studies Review, 17 (1), 2011: 188-210.

33.  Buchan ‘Civilized Fictions: Warfare and Civilization in Enlightenment Thought’, Alternatives, 36 (1), 2011: 64-71.

34.  Buchan, ‘The Subject of War: From Salamanca to Sydney Cove’, Global Change, Peace and Security, 21 (1), 2011: 53-68.

35.  Buchan, ‘Traffick of Empire: Trade, Treaty and Terra Nullius in Australia and North America’, History Compass, 5 (2), 2007: 1-20.

36.  Buchan, ‘Civilization, State Sovereignty and War: the Scottish Enlightenment and International Relations’, International Relations, 20 (2), 2006: 175-92.

37.  Buchan & Heath, ‘Savagery and Civilization: From Terra Nullius to ‘Tides of History”, Ethnicities, 6 (1), 2006: 5-26.

38.  Buchan, ‘Subjects of Benevolence: Concepts of Society and Civilization in Early Colonial Indigenous Administration’, Journal of Australian Studies, 86, 2006: 37-48, 198-202.

39.  Buchan, ‘The Empire of Political Thought: The Language of Civilization and Perceptions of Indigenous Government’, History of the Human Sciences, 18 (2), 2005: 1-22.

40.  Buchan, ‘Enlightened Histories: Civilization, War and the Scottish Enlightenment’. The European Legacy, 10 (2), 2005: 177-192.

41.  Buchan, ‘The ‘Tides of History’: The Yorta Yorta, Native Title, and Colonial Attitudes to Indigenous Sovereignty’, Journal of Indigenous Policy, 7 (2), 2004: 3-23.

42.  Buchan, ‘Aboriginal Welfare and the Denial of Indigenous Sovereignty in Australia’. Arena Journal, 20, 2002/03: 97-121.

43.  Buchan, ‘Zero Tolerance, Mandatory Sentencing and Early Liberal Arguments for Penal Reform’, International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 2002: 201-218.

44.  Buchan, ‘Explaining War and Peace: Kant and Liberal International Relations Theory’. Alternatives, 27 (4), 2002: 407-428.

45.  Buchan, ‘Withstanding the Tide of History: The Yorta Yorta Case and Indigenous Sovereignty’. Borderlands – Special Indigenous Sovereignty Edition, 1 (2) 2002.

46.  Buchan, ‘The Forge of Peace: Civil Society and the Problem of Violence’, Flinders Journal of History and Politics, 22, 2001/02: 73-92.

47.  Buchan, ‘Of “social ties” and “savage hordes”: the denial of indigenous sovereignty in Australia’, Technical Report, Political Science Program, RSSS, Australian National University, 2001: 1-37. EPrints Repository: <http://eprints.anu.edu.au/archive/00001411/&gt;

48.  Buchan, ‘Subjecting the Natives: Aborigines, Property and Possession Under Early Colonial Rule’, Social Analysis, 45 (2), 2001: 143-162.

49.  Buchan, ‘Liberalism and Fear of Violence’, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 4 (3), 2001: 27-48.

50.  Buchan, ‘Situated Consciousness or Consciousness of Situation? Autonomy and Antagonism in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness’, History of European Ideas, 22 (3) 1996: 193-215.


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