This essay argues that issues of sovereign state debt repayment and collection—too often assumed to be free of the contingency and elasticity of narrative—are deeply shaped by historically grounded discourses of sovereignty that delineate boundaries between the public and private arenas. Conventional understandings of international finance fail to address the complexities of who should repay sovereign state debt and whose assets should be collected in the event of nonpayment. For answers to these inquiries, the narrative of debt needs to be understood as embedded within narratives of sovereignty, which construct and shape who holds ultimate authority within a given territory.
Narrative and Strategy in Sovereign Debt
odette lienau is a professor of law and a member of the Graduate Field of Government at Cornell University. She is the author of Rethinking Sovereign Debt: Politics, Reputation, and Legitimacy in Modern Finance (Harvard University Press, 2014), which won a book award from the American Society of International Law, and a number of articles at the intersection of international economic law, debtor-creditor relations, and legal and political theory. She has served in an expert capacity for the IMF and UNCTAD and practiced at a major New York City law firm prior to entering academia.
Odette Lienau; Narrative and Strategy in Sovereign Debt. differences 1 December 2020; 31 (3): 169–187. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-8744581
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