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Of all the north circumpolar lands, only Greenland extends farther towards the top of the globe than the uppermost reaches of the Arctic Archipelago. Politicians and media commentators regularly extol Canada’s identity as a northern nation, yet this area’s official name since 1954 – the Queen Elizabeth Islands – is not widely known or often used, and most citizens’ knowledge of High Arctic geography is rather vague. Only the military station at Alert on the north coast of Ellesmere Island, about 800 km from the pole, stands out clearly amid the general blur.
The High Arctic region’s southern boundary is Parry Channel, the major east–west waterway through the archipelago, in latitude 74° north. Parry Channel also divides the islands where Indigenous people have lived continuously for millennia from those that were abandoned during the harsh climatic conditions of the Little Ice Age (which lasted roughly from 1300 to 1850 ad).
At a global level, the perception of Antarctica has been largely determined by the hegemony of English-speaking accounts and visions, and of central and northern European countries – despite being on the opposite side of the planet – as has been the case with other large regions colonized during the rise of imperialism. Paradoxically, the relationship with Antarctica of the region that is closest to it, and whose main Antarctic countries have the largest and oldest permanent presence on that continent – as well as the strongest sense of belonging – is often ignored or simply interpreted as a simple case of ‘territorial nationalism’1 or even ‘Latin Lebensraum’.
During the Cold War, at about the time Ian Fleming was penning From Russia with Love (1957), the Soviet Union stunned the world with a successful launch of an artificial satellite, Sputnik. While Western and Soviet spies, real and fictional, were hatching plans to acquire field and signals intelligence, the world’s scientific community helped to create their own daring initiative. The International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–58 was audacious in scope and scale – scientists around the world were going to explore and interrogate outer space, the polar regions, and the oceans, and share the ensuing data for the sake of global knowledge generation.
This article explores the exiling of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, in 1814 and 1815. It argues that in confronting Napoleon’s sovereignty and trying to remove him, the allies were forced to make a highly pragmatic, improvisational, and incoherent use of international law. Much of this stemmed from that fact that they were trying to implement a Great Powers political system within and through a legal system that was antithetical to any such concept. Because of this the allies move between employing traditional, domestic understandings of sovereignty, to treating sovereignty as something capable of international control and distribution. This results in an incoherent legal argument and narrative, with each turn of the tale adding layer upon layer of further confusion and contradiction. The conclusion of all this is Napoleon’s miserable dispatch to St. Helena by the British government – speedily done and in fear of a legal challenge.
The objective of this chapter is to draw the route map followed both by constitutions and the representation of the electoral base in Spanish and Portuguese America from the Napoleonic occupation of the Peninsula (1807/1808) until the creation of new sovereign states at the end of the wars of independence (ca. 1824). The argument that articulates the discussion here and the dialogue between the Hispanic and Lusitanian world is that the constitutional and representative question assumed, jointly and with many variants, a constructivist dimension regarding the dilemma of sovereignty. In the context of the crisis of the Iberian monarchies, representation of the territories played a central role in constitutional experiments and electoral regulations. Faced with the fact, or danger, of dismemberment of preexisting political bodies, the adoption of a constructivist stance was manifest as much in the leaders who attempted to restore and safeguard the unity of the bi-oceanic monarchies as in those who sought to legitimize the emergence of new communities aspiring to be sovereign.
Este artículo estudia la cultura afrobarroca y la soberanía negra de los afromexicanos a través del análisis de la descripción de dos performances de “reyes negros” que se encuentran en la “Relación de las fiestas insignes que en la Ciudad de México se hicieron en la dedicación de la Iglesia de la Casa Profesa y beatificación de nuestro Santo Padre Ignacio” de 1610. La finalidad de este análisis es triple. Primero se busca distinguir estos reyes negros festivos de los presuntos reyes negros rebeldes. En segundo lugar, y más central al artículo, se busca exponer la cultura afrobarroca que los afrodescendientes desarrollaron en el México colonial, resaltando su agencia cultural, social y política en la formación de esa cultura. Por último, a luz de esa triple agencia, se teoriza sobre su soberanía, o autonomía y libertad en darle el carácter que quisieron a su cultura criolla.
This chapter seeks to ground what follows in debates within the International Relations of the Middle East, with a particular focus on how scholars have sought to characterize the rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran. In a departure from these debates, the chapter seeks to understand Saudi and Iranian efforts to exert order over space. Lastly, it brings together geopolitical, ideational, and spatial analysis to set out a (comparative) framework to understand the impact of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran on local politics, and vice versa.
Building on comparative analysis, this chapter identifies ten trends that we feel capture key dynamics of global policymaking in the early twenty-first century: the clash of sovereignties, the growing focus on individuals, the universalization of aspirations, the promotion of a holistic narrative, the orchestrating role of international organizations, the pursuit of inclusion, increasing codification, the emphasis on expertise, the resilience of the North–South divide, and Western hegemony. The arrangement of these dynamics, which embody a combination of practices and values, obviously differs across issue areas. Nonetheless, most of these ten trends are observable in pretty much any instance of global policymaking today. The ultimate goal of this comparative exercise is to determine whether there are (1) practices that recur more often than others and (2) worldviews that seem to regularly triumph over others. Among others, we observe that sovereignty remains central to global governance but sometimes in heterodox ways; codification is a much more diverse process than legalization; orchestration is as much about cooperation as it is about competition and collusion; and North–South politics can give way to unexpected alignments.
Chapter 5 locates Montesquieu in an intellectual context he fashioned through his own choice of interlocutors in The Spirit of the Laws – his world of ancient political writers and lawgivers. Montesquieu turns to the classical world in search not of models for imitation but knowledge of the science of politics. This chapter considers the relationship between Montesquieu’s critique of the substantive ideals of classical politics and his significant debts to the Aristotelian mode of regime analysis.
This chapter clarifies the philosophic dimension of Montesquieu’s essay on Rome, which comes to sight when, in chapter 18, Montesquieu makes explicit that he is presenting here a preeminent case study vindicating the contention that “it is not Fortune that dominates the World”; there are “general causes, some moral, some physical, which operate,” and “all the accidents are subject to these causes.” This foreshadows the claim with which Montesquieu opens his Spirit of the Laws: “I have posed the principles, and I have seen the particular cases unfold therefrom as if by themselves; the histories of all the nations are nothing but the consequences.” These statements signal the emergence of the modern philosophy of history, as a major component of Enlightenment rationalism’s most ambitious project and hope: to show that human reason can provide a system of universal causal explanation that will leave no room for plausible evidence of governance by supra- and contra-rational providential and legislative divinity (which is profoundly opposed not only to revealed religion but to ancient political rationalism.)
How did Montesquieu, born into a noble family in rural Bourdeaux, become a world-historical figure? In what particulars was he a man of his own times? That he lived when he did and where he did is obvious. How he managed to escape the limitations imposed upon him by time and place is not. The volume opens with a chapter introducing the reader to the development of Montesquieu’s thought throughout his literary and philosophical career. The essay will situate this account within the relevant biographical and historical context. It will consider the relationship between the major works and pursue insights into Montesquieu’s intellectual development derived from the study of minor works such as his Reflections on Universal Monarchy in Europe and Pensées.
The Spirit of the Laws (1748) is often considered one of the founding works of political liberalism. Yet more recently, a series of interpreters have thrown doubt on this dominant reading. In order to revisit and assess this debate, this contribution delineates Montesquieu’s definition of political liberty as distinct from so-called “philosophical” liberty. It considers his “solution” to the threat despotism poses to all forms of government, namely, the distribution of state powers and the division of social forces, while evaluating the status of the “English model.” Finally, it probes the original distinction between political and civil liberty, while showing that Montesquieu’s political theory cannot be integrated into the tradition of republicanism conceived as a theory of participatory self-rule. In The Spirit of the Laws, the understanding of liberty fits neither a standard liberal view nor a civic republican one; it includes elements that reach beyond both, such as a political culture grounded on honor as much as on the love of liberty.
Chapter 10 picks up with an exploration of sovereignty. This chapter will offer an analysis of the meaning and practices of political sovereignty with a focus on Montesquieu’s seminal treatment of the English constitution, where sovereignty is ambiguous and divided in ways that are constitutively connected to liberty. The chapter considers Montesquieu’s treatment of sovereignty in the context of other major modern theories of sovereignty and its relevance for contemporary liberal democratic states.
This chapter explores the particularity of Montesquieu’s political vision that includes a commitment to traditional social orders alongside a defence of liberty. It demonstrates how later theorists associated with the liberal tradition develop at least one of three features largely derived from Montesquieu’s work that we now associate with modern liberalism once combined with a commitment to social and political equality. These features are: institutional and constitutional organization to guarantee political accountability and the rule of law; social pluralism and representative government as a structure for the aggregation, education and voicing of broad social interests; and an ethos of moderation and avoidance of cruelty in social and political life. They characterize broad aspects of the liberal tradition at the level of institutional design, the structure of civil society and the broad social ethos needed to sustain it. The chapter concludes with reflections on perceived threats to liberalism today.
This chapter offers an interpretation of Part VI of The Spirit of the Laws, the least-discussed and least-understood section of the book: The Spirit of the Laws and its purpose in the book. Part VI systematically unravels all of the various accounts of a unitary founding moment of a unitary French state, all the attempts to find an ancient legitimate principle that could dictate what lawful government would mean in the eighteenth century. Montesquieu rejected founding narratives in favor of evolutionary history and unplanned development; he connected that move to his rejection of legal uniformity in favor of pluralism. Montesquieu rejects all of the contemporaneous theories of political normativity grounded in foundings and origins – la thèse nobiliaire as much as la thèse royale, historical contractarianism as is found in the monarchomachs as much as both hypothetical contractarianism and Machiavellian-republican founding principles. He demonstrates the falseness and impossibility of all of these, rejecting them as incompatible with the pluralism and complexity of history, the contingency and accident that shaped the development of political authority.
The “woman question” is at the heart of Montesquieu’s epistolary novel, The Persian Letters, and other early works like the erotic-philosophic tale, The Temple of Gnidus. In these works of the imagination, women are important both as characters and as potential audience. Although women do not seem as central to either Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline or The Spirit of Laws, they do appear at key moments in the unfolding argument of both works. The chapter examines the place of women within Montesquieu’s oeuvre, with special emphasis on the links between women and the politics of liberty in The Spirit of Laws. Not only does the condition of women serve as a paradigmatic case for the status of liberty altogether, women actually become the agents of the liberalizing reforms that Montesquieu cautiously forwards.
The first goal of the chapter is to establish that Montesquieu was as much a moral philosopher as a political theorist, as is revealed in numerous discourses, dissertations and dialogues only recently translated into English. His purpose in writing The Spirit of the Laws, he remarked in his “Preface,” was to provide reasons for loving one’s “duties” while encouraging readers to “practice the general virtue that includes love of all.” In a discarded fragment of his “Preface” he even termed his work “a treatise on morality.” A second goal of the chapter is to establish that Montesquieu was critical of the political virtue he attributed to the republics of antiquity and to explain that the grounds for his rejection of Lycurgus’ Sparta have not previously been sufficiently explained. And, finally, the chapter analyses why Montesquieu strongly preferred the principle of honor motivating monarchical subjects, as compared to the political virtue of the ancients, which he likened to the hardships monks endure. Most revealing is his remark in a text Robespierre unfortunately failed to heed that “even virtue is in need of limits.”
This chapter situates Montesquieu’s economic writing within broader political and economic developments that favored the emergence, in France and all over Europe, of political economy. For Montesquieu, the rise of international trade; the increasing dominance of mobile forms of wealth; and transformed expectations for material well-being in modern societies undermined traditional social structures and the forms of political authority that went with them. In this context, Montesquieu’s political thought can be read as a kind of political economy insofar as it employed a moral psychology of other-directedness and self-interest that was better adapted to an emerging commercial society than traditional models of duty and virtue. But Montesquieu, unlike the more straightforwardly economic writers of his time, did not organize his inquiry around questions of plenty so much as he sought, through his comparative method, to explore the diverse ways in which statecraft in the age of commerce could contribute to his ideal of moderate government.
At first blush, Montesquieu seems to exemplify a typical Enlightenment attitude towards revealed religion. Nevertheless, as I argue in this chapter, Montesquieu did not just promote a critical, irreverent attitude to religious dogma and practice. While subtly undermining the idea that Christianity was the one true religion in his masterpiece, The Spirit of the Laws, he at the same time developed an original defense of established religion in general, and Christianity in particular, on instrumental grounds, as being socially and politically useful. Taking account of this aspect of Montesquieu’s work sheds new light on a topic that has provoked considerable scholarly discussion: the diversity of enlightened attitudes towards religion. In particular, my analysis of Montesquieu’s views on religion helps bring into focus a particular strand of Enlightenment thinking that has hitherto remained unacknowledged in the literature and that we might describe as the “Complacent Enlightenment”.