On the Theopolitics of Sovereignty: Carl Schmitt and the theopolitics of global orders

Moore, T. 2019. On the Theopolitics of Sovereignty: Carl Schmitt and the theopolitics of global orders. Review of International Studies.

TitleOn the Theopolitics of Sovereignty: Carl Schmitt and the theopolitics of global orders
TypeJournal article
AuthorsMoore, T.
Abstract

This article considers how we can develop a reflexive reading of the theological contours of global politics through Carl Schmitt’s account of sovereignty. In doing this it seeks to generate a critical architecture to understand the pluralistic registers of sovereignty within world politics. This article examines the theological dimensions of sovereignty, calling for a closer reading of the theopolitical discourses of legality and legitimacy at work within the largely secular discipline of International Relations. Tracing the pluralistic dimensions of sovereignty—juristic, popular and theopolitical—allows us to see how sovereignty is operationalised through a range of distinct political registers. When the study of sovereignty is confused with questions of preference for modes of governing (whether secular, religious, democratic, and/or juristic) the complex historical sociology of sovereignty is overlooked. Contemporary scholarship in International Relations can benefit from closer engagement with the multiple, overlapping registers of sovereignty in global politics. We may disagree with Schmitt’s reading of sovereignty as ‘theopolitics’ but there is real methodological value in engaging secular scholarship in thinking about religion as a constitutive domain for global order—alongside a rich range of critical approaches.

KeywordsInternational Political theory
Political theology
Carl Schmitt
Sovereignty
Global politics
JournalReview of International Studies
ISSN0260-2105
Year2019
PublisherCambridge University Press
Accepted author manuscriptPOLITICAL THEOLOGY ARTICLE (January 2019).pdf

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