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Sovereignty: Frontiers of Possibility

Julie Evans
Ann Genovese
Alexander Reilly
Patrick Wolfe
Copyright Date: 2013
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Unparalleled in its breadth and scope,Sovereignty: Frontiers of Possibilitybrings together some of the freshest and most original writing on sovereignty being done today. Sovereignty's many dimensions are approached from multiple perspectives and experiences. It is viewed globally as an international question; locally as an issue contested between Natives and settlers; and individually as survival in everyday life. Through all this diversity and across the many different national contexts from which our contributors write, the chapters in this collection address each other, staging a running conversation that truly internationalizes this most fundamental of political issues.In the contemporary world, the age-old question of sovereignty remains a key terrain of political and intellectual contestation, for those whose freedom it promotes as well as for those whose freedom it limits or denies. The law is by no means the only language in which to think through, imagine, and enact other ways of living justly together. Working both within and beyond the confines of the law at once recognizes and challenges its thrall, opening up pathways to alternative possibilities, to other ways of determining and self-determining our collective futures. The contributors, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, converse across disciplinary boundaries, responding to critical developments within history, politics, anthropology, philosophy, and law. The ability of disciplines to speak to each other-and to speak to experiences lived outside the halls of scholarship-is essential to understanding the past and how it enables and fetters the pursuit of justice in the present.Sovereignty: Frontiers of Possibilityoffers a reinvigorated politics that understands the power of sovereignty, explores strategies for resisting its lived effects, and imagines other ways of governing our inescapably coexistent communities.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6576-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Sovereignty: Frontiers of Possibility
    (pp. 1-16)

    This collection offers readers a variety of ways into the fraught terrain of sovereignty and highlights the connections between them. Sovereignty’s many dimensions are approached from multiple perspectives and experiences: personal and theoretical, political and legal, historical and practical, Native and settler.¹ Sovereignty is examined as imposed from above and as defended from below. It is deconstructed and—through alternative ways of conceiving and practicing it—reconstructed. It is viewed globally, as an international question; locally, as an issue contested between Natives and settlers; and individually, as survival in everyday life. Given its dominance and its limits, sovereignty remains a...

  5. Part I: Sovereignty and Nation

    • 2 Western Discourses of Sovereignty
      (pp. 19-36)

      Histories or genealogies of the concept of sovereignty focus, very often, on central questions such as the relationship between a sovereign and its subjects and all the many related complex issues—such as the source of sovereign authority and whether there exists a right of revolt. This approach focuses on what might be termed “internal” sovereignty. Clearly, however, any comprehensive theory of sovereignty must take into account the fact that sovereigns do not exist in isolation, that they inhabit a universe which includes other sovereigns, and that this “external” dimension of sovereignty shapes and is shaped by the character of...

    • 3 Factual and Legal Sovereignty in North America: Indigenous Realities and Euro-American Pretensions
      (pp. 37-59)

      The European powers that colonized North America based their territorial claims on sweeping assertions of sovereignty over vast areas of the continent. Initially, these claims had little basis in reality; the colonizing powers were clearly not in effective control of these immense territories. Beyond the settlements they actually established, the sovereignty they asserted wasde jure, notde facto. At the time, most of the continent was effectively occupied and controlled by Indigenous nations who were beyond the reach of European law and jurisdiction and who governed themselves in accordance with their own legal and political traditions.

      Nonetheless, in their...

    • 4 Submerged Sovereignty: Native Title within a History of Incorporation
      (pp. 60-85)

      The possibility of a new beginning was central to celebrations of the advent of native title in Australia. A re-imagined history of white invasion and settlement could, as then Prime Minister Paul Keating proclaimed, provide the possibility for a new foundation “because after 200 years, we will at last be building on the truth.”¹ This “truth” was embodied in the recognition of the presence of Indigenous communities, their laws, and their dispossession. Unlike such British colonies as India or Nigeria, the colonization of Australia proceeded on the basis that there were no Indigenous people who held property rights and who...

    • 5 Dissident Voices on the History of Palestine-Israel: Martin Buber and the Bi-National Idea, Walid Khalidi’s Indigenous Perspective
      (pp. 86-116)

      In this chapter, I wish to illuminate the thinking of two great twentieth-century intellectuals, one Jewish, Martin Buber (1878–1965), the other Palestinian, Walid Khalidi (1925–), in terms of a textual analysis of their writing in relation to the history of Palestine/Israel and in suggesting wider contexts for their conceptions of the nation-state, democracy, sovereignty, and international law. I will regard Buber and Khalidi as “conceptual personae” or “thought figures.”⁵ I will explore their intellectual personalities and writings in the light of Isaiah Berlin’s argument inHistorical Inevitability(1954) for a form of historical consciousness that recognizes that history...

  6. Part II: Sovereignty Stories

    • 6 Sovereignties: Stolen by the Desire for Gold, a Child and Carrying on the Family Name
      (pp. 119-135)

      Contact, conflict, retreat, or conquest is a pattern of human interaction through the thousands of years of human existence. Societies ritualize conflict as sport, people turn on the news and hear of conflict in the form of a shooting in the city where they live, and the more such instances are reported the less shocking it becomes. The creative people within our societies place a fictional parameter around the conflict and it becomes an action film or a murder mystery novel. Humanity has had two wars to end all wars. Yet an individual with a television, radio, or connection to...

    • 7 Sovereignty Negotiated from Below and Above: Native Personalities and European Law
      (pp. 136-162)

      The rulers of modern states (and their agents) usually express sovereignty in terms of exercising jurisdiction, of exercising power, over individuals—subjects or citizens—or over territory. Yet this predominant modern model of jurisdiction based on territory is a relatively recent phenomenon, the product of the emergence of the Westphalian state system, underpinned by the decline of religion and the colonization of the New World. As states became linked to bounded territories, governments obtained sole rights to jurisdiction over them. The primacy of territorial jurisdiction resulted from the need to delimit territorial boundaries in order to impose uniform laws and...

    • 8 Aboriginal Sovereignty: A Practical Roadmap
      (pp. 163-178)

      Growing up in the Aboriginal community, the idea of Aboriginal sovereignty became a concept that seemed inherent.

      I had heard the language of “sovereignty,” had heard the word expressed as part of my father’s politics, as a central part of the politics of the Aboriginal people who influenced me ideologically—Michael Mansell, Gary Foley, Kevin Gilbert—and I understood from an early age that the concept of “sovereignty” referred to and flowed from a distinct history, a distinct culture, a distinct community, distinct identity. I had heard the history of how, as the first peoples, we never conceded our land...

  7. Part III: Sovereignty Concepts

    • 9 Surpassing Sovereignty
      (pp. 181-195)

      There is an ambivalence to the title that intimates what the concerns of this chapter will be. Like its exhausted predecessors, modern state sovereignty must surpassingly combine being determinate with an unconstrained efficacy. Unlike those predecessors, it has to do this without recourse to a transcendental reference fusing these two contrary dimensions. Rather, this sovereignty can enclose itself yet extend indefinitely, subsist finitely yet encompass what is ever beyond it. Clearly it cannot be adequately rendered in simple objectness. Its determinacy has to be a process of continual constitution, of “totalizing itself,” of “gathering itself by tending toward simultaneity.”² Yet...

    • 10 Sovereign Apologies
      (pp. 196-219)

      The apology of the Australian government to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander¹ peoples in Australia for laws which resulted in their forced separation from their families assumed that the State possessed the power to pass the laws. As a result the apology was limited to expressing sorrow for the consequences of the laws of removal, and in no way intimated that the State might have lacked the power to pass them. The laws were acknowledged to be bad, even evil in their conception, but they remained, according to the terms of the apology, compatible with the fundamental principle of the...

    • 11 Maori Concepts and Practices of Rangatiratanga: “Sovereignty”?
      (pp. 220-250)

      Since at least the 1500s, when Europeans first ventured out of Europe and into their “new world,” they have controlled the official discourse by which Indigenous peoples’ relationships to their territories and resources have been defined, refined, and then redefined again to suit Western interests. The settlement and colonization of Aotearoa New Zealand, following in the wake of the Americas and Australia, is a prime example of this process in action. International law explained and justified the processes used to subjugate completely the existing voices on the land, and where that could not be achieved drove them into the margins...

  8. Suggested Readings
    (pp. 251-254)
  9. Contributors and Editors
    (pp. 255-258)
  10. Index
    (pp. 259-271)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 272-273)