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Locating Mobile Sovereignty: Carthage in Natural Jurisprudence

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Whereas contemporary scholarship sees Carthage either as a Roman foil in Renaissance Humanist curricula or a symbol of commerce in Enlightenment discourses on trade, there is a significant, but so far unexplored theory of ancient Carthage as a mobile polity in early-modern political thought on the state between states. This paper argues that the reimagination of Carthage in natural jurisprudence enabled a shift in the intellectual history of empire in the era of overseas expansion, towards a political thought on the spatial fluidity of sovereignty. Furthermore, the afterlife of a mobile Carthage witnessed a transition in the language of political thinking from the martial to the economic virtue. This thread of political thinking, which ran from Bodin and Gentili to Rousseau but obtained the greatest interest and complexity in Grotius, turns to Carthage as a thought-experiment on the locality and mobility, times and spaces, continuity and expiry of states as sovereign peoples.

Keywords: ALBERICO GENTILI; CARTHAGE; CIVIC HUMANISM; COMMERCE; HUGO GROTIUS; JEAN BODIN; NATURAL LAW; SOVEREIGNTY; SPACE; TIME

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Government, Harvard University. CGIS Knafel 1737 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Publication date: 2022

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