Sovereignty: The Biography of a Claim
Published: March 2021© 2021
192 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 0.80 in
To be effective, sovereignty must be secured through force or consent by those living in a territory, and accepted externally by other sovereign states. To be legitimate, the sovereignty claim must have the consent of its people and accord with international human rights.
In Sovereignty: The Biography of a Claim, Peter H. Russell traces the origins of the sovereignty claim to Christian Europe and the attribution of sovereignty to God in the early Middle Ages. Transcending a narrow legal framework, he discusses sovereignty as a political activity including efforts to enshrine sovereignty within international law. Russell does not call for the end of sovereignty but makes readers aware of its limitations. While sovereignty can do good work for small and vulnerable peoples, it cannot be the basis of a global order capable of responding to the major existential threats that threaten our species and our planet.
A brisk, often humorous, and personal exploration, Sovereignty: The Biography of a Claim will interest specialists and general readers alike, offering fresh insights on the limitations of sovereignty and the potential of federalism to alleviate these limitations now and in the future.
2. Cannosa: Emperor and Pope Fight for It
3. Westphalia: The State Gets It
4. We the People Become Sovereign
5. Sovereignty as the Instrument of European Imperialism
6. Federalism Paves the Way for Removing Sovereignty’s Sting
7. Sovereignty Challenged Beyond and Within the State
8. Conclusion: Sharing Power Instead of Claiming Sovereignty
"It is wry, fast-moving and instructive…Sovereignty casts a bright light on platitudes that dominate official discourse on First Nations. The result is absorbing."Holly Doan, Blacklock’s Reporter
"Sovereignty: The Biography of a Claim provides a nuanced… approach to nation-state claims of sovereignty that serve as a useful contrast to Indigenous and emerging articulations of self-determination, thus underscoring the relationships at stake in such claims and the practices these claims foster."Jim Miranda, Bentley University, Transmotion
“Much wisdom is distilled in this elegant book. An accessible primer on a key political concept, it also sheds much light on the continuing quest for self-rule by repressed and marginalized peoples around the world. At the same time, it provokes timely debate on the future structure of global governing institutions. A remarkable achievement reflecting an exemplary lifetime of seminal scholarship and practical experience.” Louis W. Pauly, FRSC, J. Stefan Dupré Distinguished Professor of Political Economy, University of Toronto
"If you care about Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples, then you need to understand the central importance of the term ‘sovereignty.’ This biography of the idea is a terrific place to start."Robert Vipond, professor of Political Science, University of Toronto