From Empire to Sovereignty-and Back?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Review Essay

Foundations of Modern International Thought, David Armitage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 300 pp., $85 cloth, $27.99 paper.

A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires 1400–1900, Lauren Benton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 340 pp., $94 cloth, $28.99 paper.

Globalization and Sovereignty: Rethinking Legality, Legitimacy, and Constitutionalism, Jean L. Cohen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 442 pp., $103 cloth, $37.99 paper.

Sovereignty apparently never ceases to attract scholarly attention. Long gone are the days when its meaning was uncontested and its essential attributes could be safely taken for granted by international theorists. During the past decades international relations scholars have increasingly emphasized the historical contingency of sovereignty and the mutability of its corresponding institutions and practices, yet these accounts have been limited to the changing meaning and function of sovereignty within the international system. This focus has served to reinforce some of the most persistent myths about the origin of sovereignty, and has obscured questions about the diffusion of sovereignty outside the European context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-262
JournalEthics and International Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science


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