From debtors’ prisons to offshore havens

Dependency and its other

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
Gustav PeeblesThe New School

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This article aims to place dependency into a conversation with its opposite, sovereignty. It does so by proposing that the two concepts work dialectically, thereby casting doubt on the ideal type of sovereignty that predominates in political theory. Relying on examples from 19th‐century debtors’ prisons and 21st‐century offshore havens, the article argues that complete sovereignty is a powerful and driving myth that must be continually contested, recognising instead that all modes of sovereignty entail simultaneous modes of dependency. Ethnographic and historical evidence can help us to chart these complex links of sovereignty and dependency, rather than elevate the former and be suspicious of the latter.

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