Exploring Sovereignty: PRIO 2015 Annual Conference

Co-organizer: Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation Cyprus Supported by The Research Council of Norway


16 October 2015

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On October 9 & 10, 2015, the ​PRIO Cyprus Centre organized its annual conference in the Nicosia UN Buffer Zone. The conference, co-organized with the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in Cyprus and supported by the Research Council of Norway, invited international experts to discuss cases of contested and exceptional sovereignty all around the world.

Under the title 'The Everyday Lives of Sovereignty: Contests and Conflicts in a Transnational Era', the conference comprised four panels, exploring a wide variety of cases in which sovereignt​​y is asserted and contested in daily life.

Starting with the first panel 'Border anxieties', the speakers gave an insight into 'de facto' state Taiwan handling Chinese immigration, the paradoxes of the Cypriot buffer zone separating and at the same time connecting both communities on the island, and finally the political role of maps in marking sovereignty in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Moving from borders to the second panel, 'Enclaves, exclaves, and other anomalies', experts shed light onto four different cases of sovereignty anomalies around the world. The focus laid on different tactics and strategies of achieving sovereignty and recognition. Inter alia, issues raised and discussed included the 'reoccupation' of abandoned villages in Israel by young generations of Palestinian refugees, the 'hybrid sovereignty' of Lebanon in Palestinian refugee camps, the situation in northern Cyprus, and the role of mediation in achieving de-facto sovereignty in Somaliland.

During the third Panel 'Sovereignty, biopolitics, and human rights', the speakers elaborated on the factor of gender violence in mapping sovereign power in Afghanistan, the role of transnational justice activities in building peace and state sovereignty for West African countries and the 'emptiness' of Bosnian state sovereignty in failing to provide public and family care.

Following a strengthening lunch break, five speakers concluded the conference by presenting various attempts and cases of 'thinking and feeling beyond sovereignty'. Starting with the erosion of borders and the blurring of lines between public and private in times of digital media and online surveillance, the discussion moved on to themes like the 'false promises' of public sovereignty for Jews in Israel, the 'right to decide' and Catalonian sovereignty, the 'crisis of hegemony' and the subsequent state of exception on a global level.

We would like to thank all participants, in particular the guest speakers, for two interesting and fruitful conference days.​​

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