Spring 2022

Sovereignty, State and Empire

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-329

Moodle site: Course


Bjorn Hammar (Section 01)


This course delves into the theoretical and historical coexistence of states and empires, focusing on how sovereignty and related concepts have been conceived in different contexts. Ideas about the sovereign state have been highly influential when depicting and analyzing modern political order and authority. Other modern polities have however coexisted with the sovereign state. The most prominent of these polities is empire. Sovereign states and empires have frequently been portrayed as entities guided by contending principles of rule and authority. Nonetheless, the early modern era, which in the history of political thought traditionally has been depicted as the emergence of state sovereignty, coincides with the establishment of transoceanic empires with extensions never before seen. This European imperial endeavor is a striking example of how states were faced with a reality that did not always match the ideas that eventually would be associated with sovereignty. The focus of this course is not primarily on the relation between state and empire as a question strictly confined to the past. The course rather emphasizes how notions about contemporary state sovereignty and the rule of modern empires continue to share fundamental dilemmas concerning political order.

Requisite: Previous course(s) within Political Science. Not open to first year students. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Stint Fellow Hammar

If Overenrolled: If overenrolled, priority will be given to majors and seniors.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022