01 December 2014

Why Legal Scholarship Gets Dissed

Jayan Nayar
‘Sovereignty’, it seems, confounds, and the fate of the ‘subject’ thus appears uncertain. Central to this existential and philosophical crisis of the ‘subject’ is the realization that state, as the bounded expression of ‘sovereign’ will, appears to be neither the protective, emancipative receptacle-vehicle for Man’s historical march towards the Future, nor the supreme actor in defining the actualities of global socio-political and legal relations within a context of a neoliberal, globalized, trans-territorialized order. Thus is sovereignty perpetually sought to be re-thought by critical philosophers, borders perpetually sought to be reconceptualised and the ‘political’ subject perpetually sought to be resurrected from abandonment. In this essay I present a different, decolonial, view of sovereignty as a philosophical invention. I begin by identifying three incommensurable conditions of subject-beingness: the precarious citizen-subject; the abject subject of ‘exceptional’ Bans; and the trans-territorial subject of ‘exemptional’ licence. Rather than aberrations, I suggest these are co-constitutively regulated and enforced by the invention of ‘sovereignty’ which constructs the materialities of differentiated subject-beingness within a global biopolitical regime of (b)ordered bodies-within(/out)- territory based on the incommensurable rationalities of license, containments and bans. The aim of this correction to the philosophy of sovereignty is to further the tasks of de-normalising the coloniality of (b)ordering that has captured, emplaced, and banned imaginations of Being(-otherwise). Conversely, a decolonial philosophy normalizes the oppositions to ‘sovereign’-presents, and naturalizes the many witnessed refusals and rejections of the present norm-alities of violence and dispossession. To de-invent sovereignty, is to therefore re-invent philosophy as decolonial praxes.

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