Equality and Equivocation: Saving Sovereignty from Itself.

Jill Stauffer, Haverford College


Law and sovereignty are equivocal terms with competing definitions. Sovereignty can refer to coercive state power or a human being's right to self-determination. In international law sovereignty usually means legalized state autonomy, but that definition is misleading, as state power relies either on domination or cooperation in order to 'feel' like sovereignty. Agambe's analysis of sovereignty as the 'œnomos of the west' gives us the hard case against saying sovereignty can stand also for human self-determination. But his definitions of law and sovereignty are too narrow to sustain his theory. Constable's meditation on the silence of justice in modern law counters Agamben, and demonstrates why sovereignty, despite its ties to coercive state power, still holds out resources of freedom and self-determination that no one can afford to forego. --author-supplied description