Authority, Sovereignty, Power – University of Copenhagen

Political Theory > MSc Specialization > Authority, Sovereignty...

Authority, Sovereignty, Power (7,5 ETCS)

The unifying theme of the course is an investigation of the nature of power. Power is manifested in multiple forms - legal and illegal, legitimizable and questionable, institutionalized and spontaneous, visible and invisible. The course will pursue the multiple guises of power through various conceptualizations of power as developed by significant political theorists of the 20th and 21st century. On the basis of thorough analysis of political theoretical texts, broader discussions will be initiated regarding our experiences of power today - from power executed on the level of states to cultural and ideological power hard to fathom; from power that sustains dominating social and political forms to protesting, anarchistic or even revolutionary power.

The course is structured according to the three concepts of the title: authority, sovereignty, power. ‘Authority’ and ‘sovereignty’ may both be seen as designating particular forms of power. The two concepts are certainly intimately connected, but dealing with them separately opens for a discussion of crucial conceptual tensions. The third part of the course, dedicated to ‘power’, investigates perspectives on power that escape the concepts ‘authority’ and ‘sovereignty’: power as a fundamental condition and expression of life, bio-power and ideological power.

‘Authority, Sovereignty, Power’ is an intensive course that meets for 4 hours each week during the first 7 weeks of the spring semester (February-March). The course is required for students enrolled in the Specialization in Political Theory.


Readings may include:

Agamben, The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government.

Brown, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty.

Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics.

Graeber, Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination.

Hardt & Negri, Commonwealth.

Hirst, Space and Power: Politics, War and Architecture.

Luhmann: Political Theory in the Welfare State.

Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty.

Weber, Economy and Society. An Outline of Interpretive Sociology.

Žižek: Living in the End Times.