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From Exclusion to Containment: Arendt, Sovereign Power, and Statelessness

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Taking up Hannah Arendt's analysis of statelessness and her critique of sovereign power, this paper argues that the condition of 'rightlessness' has become normalized within the international order. In contrast to claims that globalization has undermined sovereignty, Arendt's work helps to illuminate how states continue to reinforce their power to exclude and contain stateless persons while simultaneously deploying the discourse of universal human rights. Current state policies reveal that rightlessness is deeply embedded within the logic of the inter-state system. In a globalizing world where states are increasingly called upon to conform to universal standards of human rights, millions of stateless persons continue to be segregated from the public realm of effective political agency by statist practices of global apartheid, thereby rendering them 'superfluous' human beings.

Affiliations: 1: University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK


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