Violating Boundaries in the Name of Self-Governance: The Violence of (Neo)Liberal Intervention

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Markus KIENSCHERF, John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Whenever we talk about borders and boundaries we also inevitably talk about sovereignty in the double sense of supremacy and autonomy. Turned inwards, sovereignty means having control or jurisdiction over something. Turned outwards, sovereignty means a capacity for self-rule, for independent action. Sovereignty – in the sense of an individual and collective capacity for self-governance - thus inevitably entails a boundary between an internal sphere over which one has control and an external sphere where one has the capacity for independent action. The link between self-governance and the construction of boundaries underlies both state-making and the establishment of private property. The capacity for individual and collective self-governance also happens to be a guiding principle of (neo)liberal governmentality.

But what about the violation of boundaries, and hence also of self-governance? (Neo)liberal violations of individual and collective boundaries, including the violent and lethal transgression of bodily boundaries, is often based on problematizations of sovereignty. Western state and non-state actors intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign states while claiming that bolstering the very sovereignty of the state being intervened in is a key objective of their intervention. At the same time, state and non-state actors regularly intervene in the lives of citizens for the sake of improving their capacity for self-governance. (Neo)liberal rationalities and practices of intervention thus problematize individual and collective autonomy and deploy specific governmental assemblages to (often coercively) violate the boundaries of those who are seen as incapable of responsible self-governance – both at home and abroad. The production and protection of self-governance frequently entails the, often brutal, violation of the very boundaries that guarantee the capacity for self-governance. This paper will critically interrogate the illiberal consequences of (neo)liberal violations of individual and collective boundaries that frequently occur in the very name of self-governance.