Maria Adele Carrai, A Genealogy of the Concept of Sovereignty in China since 1840, Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law, Cambridge University Press (forthcoming 2019)
The book examines the contested notion of “sovereignty” and how it was appropriated by Chinese diplomats and intellectuals over the course of the past two centuries. Despite the strong critiques of sovereignty in the 1990s, since the global expansion of international law over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, sovereignty has defined, and continues to constitute, the normative framework against which countries and polities define themselves. When, alongside international law, sovereignty was introduced into other normative political systems, as in China, the term acquired different meanings and was articulated by local agents in a variety of ways that departed from Western conceptualizations. Employing the method of conceptual history, the book examines China as a legitimate shaper and breaker of international norms and concepts and as a creator of its own modern history. By tracing the formation and emergence of a new Chinese international identity through discourses of sovereignty it shows the non-linear path of the development of international law and globalization. The work ultimately shows the colonial and imperial nature of international law and how sovereignty has been often manipulated to serve different purposes both by Western powers and China.
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