Is a Theory of Self-determination Possible?

Michael Keating* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The doctrine of self-determination has been problematic because of the difficulties in specifying the subject, which is classically the nation or people and the object, which is traditionally a territorially delimited sovereign state. Modern understandings in some ways make the problem more difficult. It is widely accepted that the nation is socially constructed and contested. The state is undergoing transformations and can no longer easily be defined. Territory is also seen as socially constructed and as much of a sociological as a topological concept. Yet these new understandings also open up new perspectives and ways to reconciling nation, state and territory. Post-sovereign perspectives provide new ways of framing the relationships. Yet, in spite of its elusive nature, claims to sovereignty recur. This is because nationality claims are ontological as well as normative and the surest way of demonstrating that a people is a nation is to assert its sovereignty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-323
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Early online date20 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2019

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