Coloniality of Sovereignty

Juho Korhonen, University of Turku

This paper is a product of an on-going research project that rethinks and re-assesses underlying histories and historical understandings of political sociology, especially those related to sovereign rule and democratic power. First publication of the project on the coloniality of sovereignty came out in ASA’s Footnotes journal’s 23/1 special issue on Ukraine under the title “Ukraine, Finlandization, and the Coloniality of Sovereignty”. This paper develops a more systematic analysis of gendered, racialized and colonial dimension of nation-state sovereignty, through an exploration of the occlusion and dismantling of non-national and non-sovereign forms of politics in the wake of sovereign independence in Eastern Europe at the borderlands of empires following WWI and the fall of the Soviet Union. What transformed through the emergence of the sovereign nation-state in Eastern Europe after World War I and after the fall of the Iron Curtain, was that non-national and anti-imperial politics have been undermined and kept at an arm’s length from inter- and intra-imperial political dynamics. The mechanism is one where sovereignty, as well as non-sovereign autonomous politics, have been allowed to operate only through the imagined nation-state. And the discourse over the latter has been controlled by great power foreign policy. This discrepancy between the coloniality of sovereignty, on the one hand, and the national framing and international rhetoric of sovereignty on the other constitutes a way of talking about the world and defining the world that hides imperial power while highlighting national politics. Such a worldview is, in itself, then a part of the reproduction of intra- and inter-imperial power. Yet, much of political and historical sociology has focused on national liberation as a historically anti-imperial form of politics. Expanding this history invites a more global and transnational form of theory.

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 Presented in Session 229. Situating the (Post)Colony: Race, Drugs, Sovereignty, and Imaginaries of Ageing