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Perennial Empires: Postcolonial, Transnational, and Literary Perspectives By Chantal ...

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Perennial Empires:


The Everlasting Leviathan

Chantal Zabus and Silvia Nagy-Zekmi

The “e” word—that is, empire—suggests new forms of sovereignty that have toppled the nation-state and imperialism, which were engendered by the European powers during the process of colonization. According to Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in their seminal work Empire (2000), which was appropriately released at the turn of this millennium, imperial is not the adjective best qualified to tag the new empire; imperial is passé, for “imperialism is over” (Hardt and Negri xiv). As Edward Said declared in Culture and Imperialism (1993), “imperialism as a word and an idea today is so controversial, so fraught with all sorts of questions, doubts, polemics, and ideological premises as nearly to resist use altogether” (5). Described as a “Leviathan,” with its clear Hobbesian connotations for an autocratic order of state, this monster of the deep, empire, has no adjectival form, no territorial center of power, no boundaries, no limits. It lies beyond nineteenth-century British reach or twentieth-century American overstretch; it inhabits the globe.