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A New Model of Sovereignty in the Contemporary Era of Integrated Global Commerce: What Anthropology Contributes to the Shortcomings of Legal Scholarship

Posted by on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 in Articles, Blog, Left column, Vol. 49 No. 4, Volume 49, Volumes.

Existing legal scholarship does not offer an effective or comprehensive definition of sovereignty. Sovereignty, however, matters. Indeed, many have lived and died for it; the term likewise appears with remarkable frequency in both academic and popular discourse. But, sovereignty is not what it used to be. The evolution of globalization generally, and transformations in global commerce specifically, have sutured together the peoples of the world—conventional nation-states and Indigenous groups alike—permanently altering the sovereignty of each. These developments make it that much more imperative to incorporate a functional definition of sovereignty into legal scholarship. But, given the complexities of sovereignty, the tools of law alone are insufficient to generate such a definition. Here anthropology provides a unique and powerful insight to supplement those shortcomings. An evidence-based model through the collaborative lenses of law and anthropology shows that sovereignty and culture have become fused in a mechanism driven by the regulation of cross-border capital. This model empowers the policy makers of conventional states and Indigenous groups to more explicitly, efficiently, and effectively integrate different forms of value—both economic and social.

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