Birkbeck Law School Research Seminar, 20 January 2016

Birkbeck Law School Research Seminar

“Sovereignty Enisled” by Stewart Motha
(Birkbeck, University of London)

When: Wednesday 20 January 1:00-2:30pm
Where: 43 Gordon Square, Room B06

Sovereignty has defied the many obituaries that have heralded its demise or imminent end. Its resurgence might be observed among the erection of borders to limit the movement of migrants, the new nationalisms in Europe, declarations of war and emergency following terrorist attacks, and struggles for economic independence amidst externally imposed austerity measures. In each instance the underlying assumption is that sovereignty represents the possibility of being secure, independent, and autonomous. These measures repeat an archaic belief in the possibility of sovereign solitude – the sense that a sovereign subject or people are capable of being and thriving if they are enisled. The discussion will explore the conditions and implications of such sovereign pretensions. The paper will consider the UK’s expulsion of Chagos Islanders in order to shore-up the security interests of the United States in the Indian Ocean, and Australia’s excision of islands from jurisdiction and internment of refugees offshore. In each instance a sovereign exceptionalism proclaims a self-sufficiency that is undermined by the need for political and legal alibis. Should the political response on the left be based on the essential plurality of being, or another (sovereign) solitude – the sense that the other must remain, as Derrida suggested, “wholly other”?

This is a free and public seminar, part of the School of Law Research Seminar Series at Birkbeck, University of London. A light lunch will be available.

Forthcoming seminars

3 February 2016: Marco Wan (University of Hong Kong) “Feminist Literary Theory, Legal Texts: an Encounter”

9 March 2016: Yael Navaro-Yashin (University of Cambridge), “In the Land of Khidr: Cosmography Beyond Territorialization at the Turkish-Syrian Interface”

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