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Conference – Rethinking Sovereignty at the Radical Frontier: Pirates, Proxies and Post-State Philosophies

March 30, 2023 - March 31, 2023

Rethinking Sovereignty at the Radical Frontier: Pirates, Proxies and Post-State Philosophies

Conference hosted by the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University

Location: Coventry University, Cheetah Rd, Coventry CV1 2TL

Deadline for abstracts and registrations: 25 January 2023

Complete this form to submit and abstract, or to register to attend

The war of aggression raging in Eastern Europe is a stark reminder of the fragility of sovereignty itself, and the real threats faced by many nations. Threats to the sanctity of state sovereignty, and the global liberal order of international relations which sits precariously upon it, come from all directions and domains, whether by land, air, sea, cyberspace, urban concrete space, or the vacuum of outer space. The system of international relations, based upon the Westphalian and later UN concept of sovereign equality between states is tenuous and fragile, and recent international relations have shown that its very foundations can be threatened at any time. The reality of the postliberal international order increasingly appears as an enduring radical frontier, where pirates, hackers and criminals roam, proxy wars and enduring transitions in fragmented contexts challenge and muddy the black and white ideals that liberal internationalism was based upon. Everywhere citizens and states increasingly seem to operate by a post-state philosophy based more on the exception than the rule.

This conference seeks to examine these challenges to sovereignty at the frontiers of the state, in three directions:
1. Threats from the radical fringe of pirates, proxies, hackers, and terrorists who openly challenge and threaten state security; and
2. Perspectives of enduring transitions evolving in increasingly ‘ungoverned’, non-closed and permanently changing modalities.
3. On the other side of the spectrum,squatters, activists and alternative movements offer radically alternate visions of ‘a good life’, and new embodiments of the idea of sovereignty that allows it.

By opening this conversation, we can re-examine the foundations of sovereignty itself, and ask a raft of pressing questions: what is sovereignty? Where did it come from? How can it be claimed or asserted? And, perhaps most important of all, are there any viable alternatives to the current, deeply flawed system, be it at the extra-national, international, the national or the local level. In approaching this daunting task – a deep reappraisal of the Westphalian foundations of global order – we may seek guidance from philosophers past and present, from Kant to Nietzsche to Foucault, and other contemporary thinkers, and ask what relief and direction they can offer in deeply troubling times.

We are seeking papers willing to engage in a ‘festival of dangerous ideas’ – a deep critique of lip-service sovereignty, a willingness to ‘stare into the abyss’ and call out the contemporary realities of sovereignty, as well as a brave offering of alternate visions and ideas of how real existing sovereignty could and might be conceptualised.

Potential Panels
• Emerging and future threats to sovereignty in the era of cyberwarfare, artificial intelligence and security in the new online frontier
• Maritime security and encroaching threats to the living ecosystems existing within sovereign maritime territorial spaces
• Alternative approaches to sovereignty: Micro-Sovereignties (example: seasteads, squatted buildings, autonomous zones, safe spaces, etc.,) and pragmatic approaches, such as civic-ness
• Proxy wars, state-sponsored aggression and the role of non-state actors
• Transitional arrangements in fragment states, (aka states that have never existed as a sovereign entity with unified governance)
• Decolonialism and indigenous sovereignty
• Structures of international relations, the United Nations as an institution, the UN Security Council, and ideas for reform
• Philosophical approaches to sovereignty more broadly
Applications for other panels or papers are also encouraged. Organisers plan to submit a special edition of a leading journal on the theme of Sovereignty at the Radical Frontier.
We seek submissions in two formats:
1. Written abstracts of up to 500 words
2. Artistic interventions that address this theme, which might include original artworks, graphic novels and comics, or poster presentations.
Traditional academic panels are planned alongside an artistic ‘gallery of dangerous ideas’, and will take place in person at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations in Coventry.

Deadline for abstracts and registrations: 25 January 2023

Complete this form to submit and abstract, or to register to attend

Funded Travel
Please advise at time of application if you would like to be considered for funding. Instructions on how to book funded travel via CTPSR will be sent separately.

Prof Mary Kaldor, Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics
Cities at War: Global Insecurity and Urban Resistance (Edited volume, 2020)

This project has received funding from:

  1. The European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101029232, and
  2. The Peace and Conflict Resolution Evidence Platform (PeaceRep), funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.


March 30, 2023
March 31, 2023
Event Category: