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In political philosophy and in general use, “sovereignty” refers to supreme political authority within a territory. This meaning is limited to state sovereignty, a usage that emerged with the modern state. Anthropology, however, has historically taken a wider view of sovereignty, in line with the discipline's more expansive understanding of the political. In line with constructivist political theory that views sovereignty as an everyday performance, ethnography since the early 2000s has examined the practice and discourse of authority in the making of “stateness.” Ethnographies of sovereignty have, moreover, analyzed sovereignty over food, energy, science, and cultural production. In anthropology, then, we may understand sovereignty to refer to the exercise of authority within regimes of power.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Anthropology
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-118-92439-6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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