Territory

Territory in the article is never defined, rather, it is stated to be ambiguous as a term and should be understood as being related to the state, defined here in two ways, that of the state as an exercise of power through institutions, and that, more importantly for its use in this article, the the state as a clearly defined area where the power is exercised. More specifically, though, three separate understandings about the state are given, being that, one, the state is a fixed and sovereign unit in territorial space, two, that there is a very clear division of our domestic state vs their foreign state, and thirdly, that the state is there, will continue to be there, and has always been there, containing society as we know it. More definitions are given in the next section, with space now being defined two ways, either territorially as a location or structurally, as a type of interaction between states. Noting that the two understandings pay no attention to differing history between areas, rather just assuming states are all formed from a uniform background over time, we are told to note this for the rest of the article.

In the next section, Agnew talks about the common views of international relations, particularly its views on territorial states. Talking about a notable view, he explains that, again excluding the history of territories, war is not caused by ambition, but rather, a sense of anarchy that has been prevalent throughout time, focusing on an us and them view which leads states to a sense of offense as defense, or attacking before you yourself are attacked. Following this is the idea that all states are equivalent in their function, Agnew berates the view for stating both this and that states have an uneven distribution of resources, leading to an unsound view of the state.

On the whole, the article fares worse than Anssi Paasi’s chapter on territory. Paasi talks more about territoriality, that is, the idea that humans can strategically control others. Though this can, in theory, sound negative, it is worth noting that groups of people often do this to themselves, by electing a leader, and that it may happen at many different scales. This lends itself to the idea of territories as social constructs, units that emerge through four different abstractions. The first, territorial shape, is the forming of boundaries, spreading an us and them mentality, similar to the first article. Following it, though, is something the first article doesn’t mention, symbolic shape. Different from political shape, this includes all the forming of flags, coats of arms, and all other symbolic items formed by the state. Institutional shaping is next, where government and national places are formed, instilling ideas to be reproduced later. Finally, territories then gain a real position, and can be officially recognized. This is added to the idea of state territoriality, where the large increase in the number of states is recognized and compared to the basic idea of territoriality.

The following section deals with territorial identity, and the growth of ideas like nationalism and patriotism, as well as the increase in the state’s presence in everyday life, which together can lead to a national identity, combining these ideas with the premise of a nation state. The last section deals with the deterritorialization of Earth, mostly through technology such as the internet, as well as global trade and markets, as well as noting the want of political geographers for a more open discussion dealing with territory and boundary, while noting that it continues to be a closed conversation.

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