The State and the New Geography of Power: Privatized Norm-making and De-nationalized Government Agendas

December 9, 2002

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The general question organizing this paper concerns the impact of economic globalization on the territorial jurisdiction, or more theoretically, the exclusive territoriality of the nation state. It is an effort to respond critically to two notions that underlie much of the current discussion about globalization. One is the zero-sum game: whatever the global economy gains, the national state loses, and vice-versa. The other is that if an event takes place in a national territory it is a national event, whether a business transaction or a judiciary decision.

Both of these notions presuppose a unitary spatio-temporal concept of sovereignty and its exclusive institutional location in the national state. It also can be seen as an analysis of economic globalization that rests on standard theories about sovereignty and national states. But a less state-centered analysis of economic globalization allows us to capture the historical specificity of this concept of sovereignty and it allows us to recognize the possibility that certain components of sovereignty have under current conditions been relocated to supra and subnational institutions, both governmental and nongovernmental institutions, and both old and newly formed institutions.

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