Book Notes: Wendy Brown’s Walled States, Waning Sovereignty

I like graduation ceremonies because they allow me to catch up on my reading. I haven’t read this whole book yet, so this isn’t a review but, rather, my notes on it until page 42, which is what I had time to read at the ceremony.

Brown doesn’t say anything earth-shatteringly new that we haven’t discussed on this blog many times before. She’s working in the tradition of Zygmunt Bauman and his analysis of the erosion of the nation-state. But she fills in the blanks very well, and I’m enjoying the book a lot.

Even though most people don’t articulate it, everybody feels that the concept of national sovereignty is falling apart. People are bothered by that, and understandably so, given that there is no institution, no system, and no political arrangement other than the nation-state that has any interest whatsoever in protecting people from the vagaries of fate and depredations of global capital. The growing support for walls, fences and all sorts of physical barriers between states, says Brown, arises from the popular discomfort with the destruction of national sovereignty. Contrary to the belief that border walls symbolize the great power of a nation, they testify to the exact opposite, namely, the erosion of this power.

I like this analysis because it goes a lot deeper than the usual “the only reason to support a border wall is racism” narrative. I don’t know if it goes deep enough for my liking because I’m only on page 42 but I’ll let you, folks, know.

4 thoughts on “Book Notes: Wendy Brown’s Walled States, Waning Sovereignty”

    1. No, I haven’t finished because I’m preparing for an international trip with a toddler followed by a major conference where my respondent is the editor of the journal I’m desperate to get into. So I haven’t finished. But thanks for making me feel bad about it.

      Ok, I feel better now.


      1. / But thanks for making me feel bad about it.

        I am sorry. It was not the intention. I simply got excited about the new books you started mentioning since the reviews are among my best loved posts of yours, so asked about it.


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