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The Scaffolding of Sovereignty: Global and Aesthetic Perspectives on the History of a Concept (Columbia Studies in Political Thought / Political History)

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What is sovereignty? Often taken for granted or seen as the ideology of European states vying for supremacy and conquest, the concept of sovereignty remains underexamined both in the history of its practices and in its aesthetic and intellectual underpinnings. Using global intellectual history as a bridge between approaches, periods, and areas, The Scaffolding of Sovereign What is sovereignty? Often taken for granted or seen as the ideology of European states vying for supremacy and conquest, the concept of sovereignty remains underexamined both in the history of its practices and in its aesthetic and intellectual underpinnings. Using global intellectual history as a bridge between approaches, periods, and areas, The Scaffolding of Sovereignty deploys a comparative and theoretically rich conception of sovereignty to reconsider the different schemes on which it has been based or renewed, the public stages on which it is erected or destroyed, and the images and ideas on which it rests. The essays in The Scaffolding of Sovereignty reveal that sovereignty has always been supported, complemented, and enforced by a complex aesthetic and intellectual scaffolding. This collection takes a multidisciplinary approach to investigating the concept on a global scale, ranging from an account of a Manchu emperor building a mosque to a discussion of the continuing power of Lenin’s corpse, from an analysis of the death of kings in classical Greek tragedy to an exploration of the imagery of “the people” in the Age of Revolutions. Across seventeen chapters that closely study specific historical regimes and conflicts, the book’s contributors examine intersections of authority, power, theatricality, science and medicine, jurisdiction, rulership, human rights, scholarship, religious and popular ideas, and international legal thought that support or undermine different instances of sovereign power and its representations.


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What is sovereignty? Often taken for granted or seen as the ideology of European states vying for supremacy and conquest, the concept of sovereignty remains underexamined both in the history of its practices and in its aesthetic and intellectual underpinnings. Using global intellectual history as a bridge between approaches, periods, and areas, The Scaffolding of Sovereign What is sovereignty? Often taken for granted or seen as the ideology of European states vying for supremacy and conquest, the concept of sovereignty remains underexamined both in the history of its practices and in its aesthetic and intellectual underpinnings. Using global intellectual history as a bridge between approaches, periods, and areas, The Scaffolding of Sovereignty deploys a comparative and theoretically rich conception of sovereignty to reconsider the different schemes on which it has been based or renewed, the public stages on which it is erected or destroyed, and the images and ideas on which it rests. The essays in The Scaffolding of Sovereignty reveal that sovereignty has always been supported, complemented, and enforced by a complex aesthetic and intellectual scaffolding. This collection takes a multidisciplinary approach to investigating the concept on a global scale, ranging from an account of a Manchu emperor building a mosque to a discussion of the continuing power of Lenin’s corpse, from an analysis of the death of kings in classical Greek tragedy to an exploration of the imagery of “the people” in the Age of Revolutions. Across seventeen chapters that closely study specific historical regimes and conflicts, the book’s contributors examine intersections of authority, power, theatricality, science and medicine, jurisdiction, rulership, human rights, scholarship, religious and popular ideas, and international legal thought that support or undermine different instances of sovereign power and its representations.

20 review for The Scaffolding of Sovereignty: Global and Aesthetic Perspectives on the History of a Concept (Columbia Studies in Political Thought / Political History)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Justus

    Somewhere on the Internet I saw someone say, "I'm currently having my mind blown by The Scaffolding of Sovereignty." Which is, if not a recommendation exactly, at least intriguing. So, knowing nothing more about this book than that, I sought it out and began reading it. That this book has absolutely zero reviews on Goodreads should be your first sign that this is a pretty niche title. What is it even about? "The Scaffolding of Sovereignty challenges a representation of sovereignty modeled on the Somewhere on the Internet I saw someone say, "I'm currently having my mind blown by The Scaffolding of Sovereignty." Which is, if not a recommendation exactly, at least intriguing. So, knowing nothing more about this book than that, I sought it out and began reading it. That this book has absolutely zero reviews on Goodreads should be your first sign that this is a pretty niche title. What is it even about? "The Scaffolding of Sovereignty challenges a representation of sovereignty modeled on the Westphalian vision of the autonomous state facing other equally autonomous entities." But what does that mean? They have two main goals: One is to take a global & historical approach, not just a post-1800s Western European view of things. Second is to look beyond a purely political science view of sovereignty: By "the scaffolding of sovereignty" we mean that sovereignty is established and maintained as much by the aesthetic, theatrical, and symbolic structures as by political claims over everyday life. It sets out to do this with a collection of 17 essays from contributors covering a wide range of subjects. This is both the strength and the weakness of the book. It covers a vast array of topics but, unless you are an academic subject in sovereignty per se you probably aren't going to be sufficiently intrigued to plow through all of them. I certainly couldn't manage it. Examples of the kinds of things covered in the essays: the relation between royal sovereignty and the literary genre of tragedy in postclassical Greek plays; sovereignty in nomadic states and rise of Nurhaci, a Jurchen from Manchuria whose descendants overthrow the Ming and founded the Qing dynasty in China; Toyotomi Hideoshi's use of Japanese No drama and other theatricality to construct expectations of a sovereign; the gesture of pardoning in relation to sovereignty; the maintenance and display of Lenin's body in the structure of communist sovereignty; and more. I read a handful of these and, while they were somewhat interesting, eventually I decided I just wasn't interested enough in sovereignty per se to make my way through all 17 essays. Nothing about this book is bad. But it is what it is: a series of academic essays for a niche of academics. It isn't a hidden gem that will cause the minds of non-academics to explode. A word of warning: the introduction from the editors is terrible . You should skip it. It almost killed my desire to even attempt reading the book. It is extremely long. (60 pages! Longer than any of the essays!) It is full of academic jargon and academic references that go unexplained. It felt meandering, where it would switch to next perspectives and didn't understand why. I can't remember reading a worse introduction, to be honest.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steven Gerlen

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zong Yao

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ethan Chitty

  5. 5 out of 5

    Uxküll

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elissa Abbara

  7. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

  8. 4 out of 5

    Egesu Sayar

  9. 5 out of 5

    chateau no more

  10. 5 out of 5

    Francisco Diniz

  11. 4 out of 5

    Yaseen

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bryn Hammond

  13. 4 out of 5

    LP

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andy Vives

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dmaias

  16. 5 out of 5

    A

  17. 4 out of 5

    Olof Malmström

  18. 4 out of 5

    MorsJusti

  19. 5 out of 5

    DOMONIC R

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura Sender

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