Sovereignty in the global south: monarchy between ornamentalism and royal cosmopolitanism

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Via an examination of recent work on the history of monarchy and sovereignty in the age of empire, this article examines concepts such as David Cannadine’s ‘ornamentalism’ and Johannes Paulmann’s ‘royal cosmopolitanism’ to posit the necessity of viewing royalty as a global and not just European development. It argues that the study of empires requires close attention to frontier entanglements that are best viewed through microhistorical case studies as well as to structural tendencies that offer an overarching sense of the trajectory of power at the macro level. Required at both levels of analysis is attention to the expression of agency and sovereignty, including the scope for the exercise of the monarchical sovereign prerogative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-218
Number of pages14
JournalHistory Australia
Issue number2
Early online date21 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • empire
  • Monarchy
  • ornamentalism
  • royal cosmopolitanism
  • sovereignty


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