Both settler states and Indigenous peoples have mobilised sovereignty to either entrench or challenge the structure of settler colonialism. However, this historical deployment of co-existing and competing ‘politics of sovereignty’ is deeply missed by the predominant fixed and state-centrist analysis of sovereignty. Based on archival and documentary analysis discussing two pivotal moments of Aotearoa/New Zealand history, I expose how the Crown discourses and practices of sovereignty aim at policing a Euro-modern resonance, whereas the Māori ones contain the potential for a resistance and alternative. Findings reveal how these particular politics of sovereignty function as (dis)empowering and (de-)authorising political devices respectively linked to processes of colonisation and decolonisation.
Bibliographical noteopen access via T&F agreement
The author was grateful to Trevor Stack, Ritu Vij, Marie Wuth, Cecilia Cienfuegos, Alexandra Clavé-Mercier, and to the participants at the ‘Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Constitutional Change’ workshop held at the University of Aberdeen, for their comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper. He also acknowledge the valuable comments and recommendations received by the two anonymous reviewers and the editors of this journal. But his greatest debt is, of course, to all the Māori interlocutors who shared their thoughts, knowledge and struggles with him throughout this research. Thank you for inspiring this work.
This work was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation Framework under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement no.754326.