Research Student: Gareth George
Globalisation has brought an awareness of human rights, and frustration for those politically disempowered. Isolated from forming the debate their treatment goes unrecognised: Nepal’s 2015 constitution was signed although embittered groups were frustrated over the lack of ethnic equality; Greek voters rejected the July 2015 European bailout plan, but were ignored.
These discords can be understood through a competitive individuating conception of sovereignty where each sovereign identity designates a share in property, political control and territory. By understanding sovereignty through defined boundaries it instigates a confrontational narrative of “Us and Them” encouraging competition for resources and defensive attitudes to protect ownership. In response to this the research will employ these guiding questions:
- How is the historical understanding of sovereignty competitive?
- Can sovereignty be reinterpreted as communal?
My research will begin with a genealogical study of sovereignty through the writings of Machiavelli, Bodin, Hobbes, Locke and Schmitt identifying how these thinkers contribute to an understanding of sovereignty rooted in competition and ownership before looking to challenge this formulation.
Friendship, democracy and hospitality constitute cornerstones of Derrida’s ideas and disrupt traditional notions of boundaries. Using Derrida’s work my thesis will look to challenge aspects of sovereignty that are based in competition, ownership and property and a false understanding of the individual.
Levinas provides an alternative ontological understanding whereby our identity (and ontology itself) follows from our interaction with others, such that the event of meeting an-other person is a constitutive aspect of who and what we are. This incorporation of the “Other” within our self suggests a more permeable understanding of identity that the research will look to bring into confrontation with the traditional understanding of sovereignty and employ as the cornerstone for developing a more communal formulation of sovereignty.
I graduated from The University of Leeds with a BA (Hons) in Philosophy in 2001 and recently gained a distinction in my MA in European Philosophy in 2016.
In between the two I have been a secondary school teacher of Religious Studies for seven years, including teaching A-level Philosophy and Ethics throughout this period. I also spent over two years living in a remote area of Nepal working within six primary schools to assist in developing new teaching techniques, as well as working with women’s empowerment groups in a number of villages.