sovereignty is contested today,therefore,it is always and only amonghumans,horizontally so to speak,rather than vertically with Nature or God.In this way modern sovereignty is anthropocentric,or constituted and orga-nized by reference to human beings alone.
Humans live within physicalconstraints,but are solely responsible for deciding their norms and prac-tices under those constraints. Despite the wide variety of institutional formstaken by sovereignty today,they are homologous in this fundamentalrespect.Anthropocentric sovereignty might seem necessary; after all,who else,besides humans,might rule? Nevertheless,historically sovereignty was lessanthropocentric. For millennia Nature and the gods were thought to havecausal powers and subjectivities that enabled them to share sovereigntywith humans,if not exercise dominion outright.
Authoritative belief innon-human sovereignties was given up only after long and bitter struggleabout the “borders of the social world,”in which who/what could be sover-eign depends on who/what should be included in society.
In modernityGod and Nature are excluded,although in this exclusion they are also re-included as the domesticated Other. Thus,while no longer temporally sov-ereign,God is included today through people who are seen to speak on Herbehalf. And while Nature has been disenchanted,stripped of its subjectiv-ity,it is re-included as object in the human world. These inclusive exclu-sions,however,reinforce the assumption that humans alone can besovereign. In this light anthropocentric sovereignty must be seen as a con-tingent historical achievement,not just a requirement of common sense.Indeed,it is a metaphysical achievement,since it is in anthropocentric
We are grateful to an unusually large number of people for written commentsthat improved this article significantly:Hayward Alker,Thierry Balzacq,Tarak Barkawi,Michael Barkun,Jens Bartelson,Andreas Behnke,Janice Bially Mattern,Corneliu Bjola,Aldous Cheung,Arjun Chowdhury,Pam Cuce,Jodi Dean,Kevin Duska,Nancy Ettlinger,EricGrynaviski,Ayten Gündog
du,Todd Hall,Eugene Holland,Bonnie Honig,Peter Katzenstein,Sean Kay,Tahseen Kazi,Oded Lowenheim,Ramzy Mardini,Jennifer Mitzen,Nuno Monteiro,Homeira Moshirzadeh,John Mowitt,Daniel Nexon,Irfan Nooruddin,Dorothy Noyes,Jonathan Obert,Fabio Petito,Trevor Pinch,Sergei Prozorov,Mark Rodeghier,Diego Rossello,Keven Ruby,Jacob Schiff,Allan Silverman,Frank Stengel,Michael Swords,AlexanderThompson,Srdjan Vucetic,Ole Waever,Jutta Weldes,Hans Wendt,Rafi Youatt,and twoanonymous reviewers. The article also benefited from presentations at the University of Chicago,Northwestern University,the Ohio State University,Ohio-Wesleyan University,Princeton University,and the 2007 annual convention of the International Studies Associationin Chicago. The research assistance of Dane Imerman and Lorenzo Zambernardi is alsoacknowledged. The article was inspired by a video of John Mack.