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date: 20 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Despite the consensus that both the political crisis in Syria and the emergence of the Kurdish autonomous region have serious implications for the viability of the nation-state in Syria, no attempt has been made to provide a theoretical explanation worthy of the name. Informed discussions of the crisis and its likely outcomes often resort to political history in order to trace the roots of a chronic crisis of legitimacy, identified as the primary cause of the current crisis. Syria, this chapter argues, is gripped by a crisis of sovereignty, signified by a rupture in the structure of domination necessary to ensure the reproduction of state power and the working of the apparatuses created to sustain its effective exercise and application. The rupture runs deep in the tissue of sovereign power, ripping open its legal façade and going down to its violent core. It lays bare the founding act of the state, an act of pure violence which is also the moment of the birth of the stateless, the suppressed other of the sovereign. In this sense, therefore, the rupture is the intersection of crisis of sovereignty and the Kurdish quest for democratic autonomy; they are interrelated, historically and logically.

Keywords: Syria, Kurdish question, stateless, sovereignty, democratic autonomy, Rojava

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