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Constituent PowerLaw, Popular Rule and Politics$
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Matilda Arvidsson, Leila Brännström, and Panu Minkkinen

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474454971

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474454971.001.0001

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Constituent Power from Cultural Practice: Implications from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupation

Constituent Power from Cultural Practice: Implications from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupation

Chapter:
(p.114) 6 Constituent Power from Cultural Practice: Implications from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupation
Source:
Constituent Power
Author(s):

Juho Turpeinen

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474454971.003.0008

Sovereignty as cultural practice can explain the possibility of the people as the subject of constituent power. I transpose Panu Minkkinen’s division of theories of sovereignty onto the cultural plane: ‘Acephalous’ sovereign self-knowledge is not only productive of the framework for a legal constitution, but subjectivises ‘autocephalous’ sovereignty – the people as the subject of constituent power – that can then act on the ‘heterocephalous’ stage of politics. Through a case study of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, I consider sovereignty’s relationship with land – juxtaposing it with neoliberalism and anti-statism, which threaten to undo the people as a subject of constituent power – and complicate this reading by placing it in the context of post-colonial America. I conclude that sovereignty not only remains a powerful counterforce to neoliberal, anti-democratic projects, but that alliances with the state to construct the people as the subject of constituent power can serve this purpose. At the same time, the post-colonial context undermines these alliances as an emancipatory force.

Keywords:   Constituent power, the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupation, sovereignty as cultural practice

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