Sovereignty and the Governance of Globalization: The Emergence of Empire or the Conquest of US Security Interests?

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Virginia Tech

As the economic, political, and cultural forces of globalization continue to proliferate throughout the international community, the concept of sovereignty will be increasingly challenged with the task of grappling with the problems of governing these forces. This thesis examines Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's characterization of how globalization will be governed — imperial sovereignty — in their vast work, Empire. In doing so, Michel Foucault's theoretical construct of bio-power is analyzed as it relates to the constitution of sovereignty, and how it subsequently can benefit international relations theorists' understanding of how power may be implemented to help effectively govern, protect, and promote life on a global scale. Yet, Empire is not without its shortcomings. Its nebulous take on imperial sovereignty is too ephemeral; there is no conception of a center to Empire, no institutional arrangements that articulate the use of power. The role of "big players" such as the United States must be taken into consideration in addressing the future prospects of governing the forces of globalization and the populations exposed to these forces. Ultimately, it appears that the best hopes for such governance lies in wedding the national self-interests of states in seeking security to the use of international institutions for more humanitarian intervention. Such a union grants force and structure to an international community otherwise devoid of authority and order.

Empire, globalization, sovereignty, bio-power