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What is sovereignty? Often taken for granted or seen as the ideology of European states vying for supremacy and conquest, the concept of sovereignty remains underexamined both in the history of its practices and in its aesthetic and intellectual underpinnings. Using global intellectual history as a bridge between approaches, periods, and areas, The Scaffolding of Sovereignty deploys a comparative and theoretically rich conception of sovereignty to reconsider the different schemes on which it has been based or renewed, the public stages on which it is erected or destroyed, and the images and ideas on which it rests.The essays in The Scaffolding of Sovereignty reveal that sovereignty has always been supported, complemented, and enforced by a complex aesthetic and intellectual scaffolding. This collection takes a multidisciplinary approach to investigating the concept on a global scale, ranging from an account of a Manchu emperor building a mosque to a discussion of the continuing power of Lenin’s corpse, from an analysis of the death of kings in classical Greek tragedy to an exploration of the imagery of “the people” in the Age of Revolutions. Across seventeen chapters that closely study specific historical regimes and conflicts, the book’s contributors examine intersections of authority, power, theatricality, science and medicine, jurisdiction, rulership, human rights, scholarship, religious and popular ideas, and international legal thought that support or undermine different instances of sovereign power and its representations.