Academic journal article Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

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

Academic journal article Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

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

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

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.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  I. INTRODUCTION
 II. SOVEREIGNTY TODAY IS DIFFERENT FROM WHAT IT
     HAS EVER BEEN BEFORE
     A. Globalization
     B. The Role of Global Commerce
III. WHAT THE COOK ISLANDS MAKES POSSIBLE FOR AN
     ANALYSIS OF SOVEREIGNTY
 IV. A MODEL OF CONTEMPORARY SOVEREIGNTY
     A. The Functional/Instrumental Side of
        Sovereignty
        1. Sovereignty as an Interface Mechanism
           a. Evidence from the Cook Islands
              (1) The Visible Doorway: Customs
                  and Immigration
              (2) Tourism: The Core of the Cook
                  Islands' Economy
              (3) National Dreams and the
                  Regulation of Off-Shore Banking
                  and Related Industries
              (4) The Interface Mechanism: A
                   Few Final Examples
        2. Sovereignty as a Value-Maximization
           Mechanism
           a. Evidence from the Cook Islands
              (1) Land Tenure Rules: State
                  Regulation in Support of
                  Cultural Norms
              (2) Tourism: A Delicate Balance
     B. The Emotional Component of Sovereignty
        1. Evidence from the Cook Islands
           a. Fault Lines: The Growing Pains of
              Nation-Building
           b. Articulations of Emotional
              Sovereignty
     C. A Few Additional Comments: Seemingly
        Incongruous Articulations of Sovereignty
        and So-Called "Failed States"
  V. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, THE DISTINCTION
     BETWEEN INDIGENOUS SOVEREIGNTY AND
     CONVENTIONAL SOVEREIGNTY HAS CEASED TO EXIST
 VI. CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

Sovereignty matters. One need only flip through a contemporary publication to see the prevalence of the term within popular and scholarly discourses alike. Issues of nation-state sovereignty permeate debates on topics that are as far-ranging as they are contradictory, including independence movements, the European Union, trade agreements, the Internet, Indian casinos, and U.S. military drone strikes. So the importance of sovereignty is doubly evident, demonstrated by both the frequency of its use and the significance of the issues that inspire that use. More importantly, sovereignty matters because it is meaningful to people--indeed, countless many have died for it and many more continue to.

Sovereignty, however, is not what it used to be. Changes in the global political economy are currently transforming the nature and the role of sovereignty into a novel phenomenon, distinct from previous forms and philosophies. In short, two-thirds of all transnational trade is now conducted by multi-national corporations. …

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