Conditioned Sovereignty: The Creation and Legitimation of Spaces of Violence in Counterterrorism Operations of the "War on Terror"

Release date: 2017-04

We argue that the spatialization of violence in the counterterrorism operations of the War on Terror provides insight for understanding how these operations are legitimized and how they pose a challenge to an international order centered on state sovereignty. Against the background of a discussion of the key markers of statehood and recent normative challenges to state sovereignty, we interpret how discourses about “ungoverned spaces” influence the creation of spaces of violence in counterterrorism operations of the War on Terror. We then offer a conceptualization of these new spaces of violence, comparing “ungoverned spaces” discourse with the logic and justification of recent drone strikes. Finally, we interrogate how the existence of these different spatializations of violence fulfill legitimatory purposes in the War on Terror and what this means for the future of the international order.

Alternatives 41 (3), pp. 119-136.