Inaugural Theme

The University of Michigan’s Angell Hall

The Michigan Journal of Law and Society invites article submissions for its inaugural issue on the theme of Sovereignty, States, and Inclusion. Submissions for our inaugural issue are due to by 11:59pm EDT on Tuesday, August 31st. Please view our submissions page for more detail.

In “Politics as a Vocation” (1918), Max Weber famously defined the state as a “human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” Much has changed since 1918, as has our understanding of sovereignty.

Contemporary scholarship at the nexus of law and social science has grappled with the implications of recent global integration across many dimensions of sovereignty: national identity and (im)migration, territorial boundaries, regulatory autonomy, socioeconomic and human rights, and the integrity of democratic processes, among others. In the tumult of the last few decades, some scholars went so far as to declare traditional national sovereignty a thing of the past, while others continue(d) to insist on its contemporary relevance as the central organizing principle of the global interstate system. Still others have argued that for many of the world’s developing countries, sovereignty has always been illusory.

Given these contrary developments, some suggest that, despite its alleged crisis, national sovereignty retains a great deal of discursive and prescriptive power. The imagined national community continues to structure institutional logics both within and beyond the nation-state. This issue asks writers and reviewers to think critically about the meaning of both sovereignty and the state, broadly conceived. We are interested in how these concepts operate in the present and how they developed and transformed historically. Submissions should recognize that no state is a monolith, and that we often cannot understand states to act in a neat, unilateral, top-down manner. Exploring different dynamics of power and the relationship between various aspects of states, public rights, and identities may also reveal inflection points, helping us to make sense of the past and of our own turbulent times. 

We will not place spatial or temporal limits on article solicitations. Possible topics for entries include, but are not limited to: 

  • Law, (im)migration, borders & territory
  • The legal construction of sovereignty over time
  • Law & political economy perspectives on the state and/or sovereignty
  • Law & racial capitalism
  • Legal mobilization and the challenges of inclusion
  • International law and national regulatory autonomy & democracy
  • Human and/or socioeconomic rights at the national/supranational level
  • New constitutionalism and global governance
  • The transnationalization of the legal profession and the global rule of law
  • Changing forms of legal consciousness
  • Legal pluralism in a post-globalized world
  • Movement politics, legal institutions, and transcommunal solidarity networks
  • Precarious citizenship, the nation-state, and crisis

If you have any questions about our inaugural theme, please email