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What comes after sovereignty?

Guardiola-Rivera, Oscar (2010) What comes after sovereignty? Law, Culture and the Humanities 6 (2), pp. 185-207. ISSN 1743-8721.


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This paper addresses the question of sovereignty from a perspective that connects the origins of public international law, with a series of onto-theological assumptions about the nature of place that were decisive in the emergence of modern colonialism. It will argue that insofar as sovereignty depends on some form of transcendence, external or internal, it is and has been ‘’impotent’’ from the very outset. However, contrary to the idea expressed in the well-known tale about the emperor’s new clothes, it is not the case that acknowledgement of this impotence would entail the end of sovereignty. Faced with the truth of its ultimate impotence, the sovereign supplements its role as decider with that of the intrigant. This new figure of sovereignty is embodied in the expert politician who announces the coming catastrophe in order to avert it, or contain it, through the use of ‘’limited’’ but ultimately borderless violence.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Law
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2010 10:21
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2016 12:01

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