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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter assesses debates within the field of Critical Theory, broadly conceived, on central themes of international politics, including sovereignty, human rights, and American hegemony. After the Cold War, many critical theorists followed Jürgen Habermas’s shift in focus from domestic politics to the “post-national constellation.” We explore Habermasian critiques of Westphalian sovereignty and the accompanying call for cosmopolitan solutions to crises of human rights and migration. We also consider the critical re-evaluations of sovereignty that arose following 9/11 in response to the American “war on terror.” Finally, we turn to the recent return to sovereignty within Critical Theory. The most convincing new approaches call for a nuanced evaluation of the relationship between sovereignty and cosmopolitanism in order to rethink the institutional configuration of a world order that is already decidedly post-national.

Keywords: Critical Theory, sovereignty, cosmopolitanism, human rights, Habermas, Frankfurt School, 9/11, migration, Schmitt, Arendt

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