1st Edition

Variations on Sovereignty Contestations and Transformations from around the World

Edited By Hannes Černy, Janis Grzybowski Copyright 2023
    334 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This edited book explores diverse contestations and transformations of sovereignty around the world.

    Sovereignty plays a central role in modern political thought and practice, but it also remains fundamentally contested. Depending on the context and perspective, it seems either omnipresent or elusive, liberating or oppressive, fading or resilient. Indeed, if in recent decades sovereignty has been expected to wane, today it is back on the agenda; not as the solid bedrock of modern – international – politics, which it never was, but as variations on a concept and institution that are ever contested and, as a result, constantly transforming.

    Bringing together perspectives from various disciplines, including International Relations (IR), political theory, geography, law, and anthropology, this volume:

    • goes beyond debates over the resilience or decline of sovereignty to instead emphasize how precisely the inherent ambiguities, tensions, and contestations in scholarship and practice spark sovereignty’s manifold transformations;

    • offers three theoretical chapters that examine the illusions, contradictions, transformation, and lasting appeal of sovereignty and the nation-state;

    • explores sovereignty from various disciplinary perspectives in 11 empirical chapters that highlight its role in different contexts around the world, from the European Union (EU) to the South China Sea, to Western Sahara and Palestine;

    • problematizes the interplay between theory and practice of statehood and sovereignty, as in the perception of Northern Cyprus as a ‘fake state’, scholars’ promotion of Kurdish ‘statehood’ in Iraq, and studies affirming the ‘Islamic State’.

    This book will be of much interest to students of statehood, sovereignty, conflict studies and International Relations.

    Chapters 8 of this book are available for free in Open Access at www.taylorfrancis.com. It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

    Introduction: Variations on Sovereignty

    Janis Grzybowski and Hannes Černy

    Part I: Theorizing Sovereignty in (I)nternational (R)elations

    1. The Making and Remaking of State Sovereignty in IR Theory: From Fantasy to Nightmare

    Moran Mandelbaum

    2. States of Sovereignty and the Making of the World of our Making

    Zoran Oklopcic

    3. Ontological Security and the Emotional Significance of Sovereignty

    Nina C. Krickel-Choi

    Part II: Suspensions: State Sovereignty Claimed and Questioned

    4. The Aporetic State: On De Facto Paradoxes and Sovereign Agency

    Rebecca Bryant

    5. How the Iraqi Kurdistan Independence Debate Came to Die: Western IR Scholars as Co-Protagonists of the Nationalist Conflicts They Set Out to Describe

    Hannes Černy

    6. "Was the ‘Islamic State’ a State?" Claiming, Contesting, and Creating Jihadist Statehood

    Maj Grasten and Janis Grzybowski

    Part III: Staging Sovereignty: Performances at the Boundaries of the State

    7. Practicing and Performing Sovereignty Abroad: Alternative Diplomacy

    Giulia Prelz Oltramonti

    8. Spectacular Fishing: Embodying Sovereignty in the Post-Brexit Channel Islands and the South China Sea

    Edyta Roszko

    9. Self-Determination Denied and Contested: Palestine and Western Sahara

    Randa Farah

    Part IV: Expanding and Re-imagining Sovereignty: Imperial and Supranational Entanglements

    10. EU Citizenship as Catalyst for New Sovereignty Practices

    Sandra Mantu

    11. Open Pit of Ontological (In)security: Poland’s Territorial Sovereignism and the Turów Lignite Mine Quagmire

    Dominik Sipinski

    12. Russia and Ukraine: Conflicting Time Perspectives in Recognition Policies and the Use of Force

    Bruno Coppieters

    Part V: Sovereignties Beyond the State

    13. "Doing Sovereignty": Sardinian Independentism and the Limits of State Sovereignty

    Daniela Morgan

    14. Indigenous Sovereignty as the In-Between Space: What is and What is Possible

    Matthew Wildcat and Justin de Leon


    Hannes Černy is a Visiting Assistant Professor in International Relations/Security at Trent University (Canada). He is the author of Iraqi Kurdistan, the PKK and International Relations: Theory and Ethnic Conflict (2018).

    Janis Grzybowski is Assistant Professor in Political Science/ International Relations at ESPOL at the Université Catholique de Lille and a Research Fellow at the REPI at the Université libre de Bruxelles.

    'Sovereignty remains an inexhaustible source of fascination. In this exciting new volume, scholars from a range of disciplines explore how contestations of sovereignty have been pushing its meaning in forever new directions in a broad spectrum of instances across the world. As such, this volume should be of interest to students of international relations, international law, and anthropology.'

    Jens Bartelson, Professor, Department of Political Science, Lund University

    'This important new work draws on multiple disciplines and vantage points to de-parochialize our understandings of sovereignty, interrogate its constructed meanings, and illustrate the continuously contested nature of sovereignty itself.'

    Thomas J. Biersteker, Gasteyger Professor Honoraire, The Graduate Institute, Geneva, and Wilson Center Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC

    'This book showcases original and interdisciplinary research that scrutinises statehood and sovereignty in modern global politics. Hannes Černy and Janis Grzybowski are to be commended for assembling a stellar collection of nuanced contributions to these important debates.'

    Donnacha Ó Beacháin, Professor of Politics, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University