Reinventing sovereignty: Removing colonial legacies, opening plurinational futures

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Indigenous nations have historically adapted, reinterpreted, and appropriated the conceptual apparatus of international law to fight dispossession, displacements, and subjugation. They have appealed to notions such as territory and self-determination to express a different kind of sovereignty. Scholars have conceptualised this process with different terms, such as ‘shared’ or ‘overlapped’ sovereignty, ‘multiple’ or ‘relational sovereignty’, ‘nested sovereignty’, and ‘parallel sovereignty’. Whereas these perspectives tend to emphasise the need to accommodate Indigenous sovereign claims within state institutions, this chapter examines how Indigenous nations are not only accommodating their claims but seek to transform the very foundations of Western state forms. By exploring the historical meaning of sovereignty, autonomy, and self-determination in Indigenous anti-colonial and post-colonial struggles, the chapter argues that the time has come for Indigenous nations to remove colonial legacies in state structures. Not without challenges, contradictions, and internal conflicts, the quest for plurinationality is the expression of this process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of international law and development
EditorsRuth Buchanan, Luis Eslava, Sundhya Pahuja
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-19-195944-8
ISBN (Print)978-0-19-286736-0
StatePublished - 18 Dec 2023

Publication series

NameOxford handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Indigenous sovereignty
  • Self-Determination
  • Autonomy
  • Plurinationalism
  • Indigenous nations


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