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Critique of Sovereignty, Book 1: Contemporary Theories of Sovereignty

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ISBN: 9780692282403 Year: Pages: 112 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0114.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:38
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Using the Western tradition of metaphysical and political thought as a backdrop, Critique of Sovereignty (a work in 4 volumes) re-examines the concept of sovereignty in order to better understand why our ethical values and technical capacities often seem so divorced from our lived realities. On the one hand, ostensibly self-enclosed entities like the nation-state and the person are rhetorically bolstered as sites of technical agency and/or moral responsibility. On the other hand, these same entities appear fragile — if not purely fictional — in relation to ever ongoing tidal processes such as the migration, diffusion, and conglomeration of bodies, capital, ideas, etc. While some of our institutions might work some of the time, they always seem to work differently than we like to think they do. Accordingly, the forging of more humane institutions might very well entail if not require ways of thinking that strive to undo the self-imagined binds, exceptions, and sureties of thought for the sake of embracing a continuity with all that withers, decays, and falls away. Book I, “Contemporary Theories of Sovereignty,” compares the varied interpretations of sovereignty given by a range of 20th-century political theorists (Maritain, Foucault, Derrida, Schmitt, Agamben, Hardt, and Negri) with Jean Bodin’s initial outline of the concept, rendered at the outset of modern political thought in the 16th century. The analytic framework of sovereignty encountered in these comparative readings provides an initial point of departure for unfolding a method of critique appropriate to the concept of sovereignty. Sovereignty is an ideal starting point for a critique of the deadlocks between thought and reality for a simple reason: it doesn’t actually exist. When it serves as a guide to action, sovereignty may be regarded as a particularly captivating fantasy. The closer it appears, the further it recedes, and, too often, the more vigorously it is pursued.

Chapter 6. Partners into Competitors (Book chapter)

Book title: Nations and Citizens in Yugoslavia and the Post-Yugoslav States

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ISBN: 9781474221559 Year: Pages: 103-118 DOI: 10.5040/9781474221559.ch-007 Language: English
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic Grant: H2020 European Research Council - 230239
Subject: Political Science --- Social Sciences
Added to DOAB on : 2018-01-30 11:02:19
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The clash between civic and ethnic solidarity as well as diverse understanding of whom should be loyal to whom and who belong together turned decisive at the moment when the multi-party majority democracy was introduced in the Yugoslav republics. Democratic participation and political belonging clashed in Yugoslavia at the junction of Yugoslav citizenship, republican citizenship and ethnic membership. Yugoslavia’s initial democratization eventually exacerbated inter-republic and inter-ethnic conflicts which had been meticulously nurtured and controlled by those nationalist elites who were attempting to, by multi-party elections, accede to power or stay in power. In this context, messages sent from the West underscoring the importance of state consolidation for successful democratization did not pressure regional actors to redefine or reform their ethnically heterogeneous states towards greater pluralism. They reinforced the idea that a truly functional state could only be an ethnically homogenized nation-state. In multinational socialist federations, it ended up promoting ethnically based political communities in opposition to the existing civic-legal political communities at the republican level as basis for democracy. This chapter argues that this ethnocentric vision of citizenship immediately challenged the existing social realities and institutional settings, put in question the borders between the republics, and opened the doors for violence and war. In his book States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control, Jeffrey Herbst describes the conflicts between the Zulu and early Dutch settlers over their opposing conceptions of sovereignty over territory and people. The Zulu believed that their political authority extended wherever people had pledged obedience to their king regardless of the territory where they happened to be. Also, ‘the Zulu believed that they could let the whites settle on land without giving up ownership’, whereas for the European whites, occupation over a certain territory also meant the ownership of that territory and control of the people that happened to be there (2000: 40–41). Extrapolated from its colonial context in which the Dutch colonizers wanted to absolutely dominate the colonized and take their land, the story could be interpreted as a clash between the conception of a political community based on ethnic, cultural, hereditary or maybe also declaratory loyalty and solidarity, regardless of existing political boundaries and polities in which the members of this community live, and a political community based on loyalty to the authorities governing a territory where one lives and, ideally, on solidarity with all those who happen to be on that territory under the same authorities. Modern states in reality often combine these two principles in a particular way: they often claim that their citizens or their ethnic kin abroad are bound to their polity and thus expect a loyalty and sometimes exercise an influence on diaspora members (who, in turn, are often interested in meddling in political affairs of the ‘old country’), but, internally, they always insist on undivided loyalty of the population they govern. Even further from its original South African situation, the clash between what we can generally call civic and ethnic solidarity, as well as different understandings of whom should be loyal to whom and who belonged together, turned crucial during the last years of Yugoslavia and decisive at the moment when the multi-party majority democracy was introduced in its republics.

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