University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Territory and Territoriality

Storey, David ORCID: (2017) Territory and Territoriality. Oxford University Press, New York.

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We live in a highly territorialized world, the most obvious manifestation of which is the political division of the earth into separate countries or states. However, this macroscale territorialization is accompanied by a myriad of much more microscale variants involving the staking of claims to geographic space, the “production” of territories, and the deployment of territorial strategies. In everyday usage, territory is usually taken to refer to a portion of geographic space that is claimed or occupied by a person or group of persons or by an institution. In this way it can be seen as an area of “bounded space.” Following from this, the process whereby individuals or groups lay claim to such territory can be referred to as “territoriality.” However, these somewhat simplified definitions mask considerable complexity. Territory involves particular ways of thinking about geographic space, and territories themselves can be seen as an outcome of territorial practices. Much discussion has occurred over the extent to which territorialization and territorial behavior should be seen as “natural” or “social” phenomena, debates echoing wider long-standing arguments over the relative influence of nature and nurture, a division that many see as somewhat artificial and itself a discursive construction. For all that it might appear that territory and territoriality should be central concepts within geography, it is perhaps surprising how relatively little explicit treatment the topics have received within the discipline. While being mindful of the complexity of ideas surrounding these concepts, it is clear that they reflect ways in which space is imagined and they serve useful political functions. Territoriality and the production of territories can be seen as devices that tend to reify power so that it appears to reside in the territory itself rather than in those who control it. Attention is thereby deflected away from the power relationships, ideologies, and processes underpinning the maintenance of territories and their boundaries. Territorial thinking, the production of territories, and the employment of territorial strategies are bound up with maintaining power or with resisting the imposition of power by a dominant group. Forms of exclusion can be consolidated and reinforced through territorial practices, yet they can also be resisted through similar means.

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: territory, territoriality, political geography, geographic space
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
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Depositing User: David Storey
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2017 12:25
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2020 04:00

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