The sovereignty surplus

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This Foreword aims to rescue the sovereignty concept from the conflicted centre of irresoluble debates about the resilience and value of the state form. The idea of a ‘sovereignty surplus’ shifts the focus of inquiry towards sovereignty as a deep frame of legal and political thought and action. It evokes how sovereigntist thinking, in tandem with the techniques of modern constitutionalism, spills over beyond its threshold modern achievement of imagining and securing the paramount authority of the state system. The sovereignty surplus manifests itself in part as a ‘surfeit’ of sovereignty – an overabundance of new sovereignty claims emerging in new sub-state and supra-state contexts, but it also captures sovereignty’s augmented reworking in existing contexts. The sovereignty frame, then, while resilient in its general form and settled in its statist locus, is capable of and susceptible to adjustment and redeployment in the face of new internal and external pressures. It harbours an excess that allows its component elements to be fleshed out, modified and diversified so as both to absorb and reshape shifting sources and assertions of political authority. These movements are captured by examining the contemporary interaction amongst the five “R’s – the recomposition, raising, rationing, reinforcement and reduction of sovereignty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-428
Number of pages59
JournalInternational Journal of Constitutional Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2020


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