Territory (and a Demonstration of Why I Shouldn’t Be Up at 5 AM)

Quite frankly, I’m a little short of time and the Anssi Paasi reading has taken me 8 hours to digest and make notes on, so the 26 pages of Agnew will be read later. To dive right into Paasi’s reading, I grew incredibly bored and frustrated with what seemed like a content-heavy and informational-y-laden reading that repeated how ‘territory and sovereignty’ were almost every answer to each section. I am quite peeved with how this reading went, especially considering my personal connection and deep interest in how people create territories that become places (and spaces).

Moving along, I completely agree with the notion of territories as social process where social action and space are simultaneous and firmly linked together. What is great about this particular viewpoint is that it is not frozen; territories can change over time and can be constructed, given an attribute or meaning, then deconstructed or destroyed through the actions of single people or a group action. The following concept that territories are also based upon their history is also appealing personally. These constructs do require a lot of conscious effort on part of a ruling body made by the people or from the people themselves to maintain and promote an image or identity for a territory.

While working on this reading, I turned on the movie Braveheart to give myself some background noise. Although this might not have been the best idea (should have just stayed with the soundtrack), it actually became very helpful in digesting some of the information. You have two factions of people, Scotland and England (five if you count minor-plot states like Wales, Ireland, and distant France), who are both vying for control over Scottish territory. The Scots are a people with their own history, culture, and administrative practices which distinguish them from the English, who also have their own respective practices. However, the English state wishes to become more powerful and acquire French land through diplomacy, but only if they can appear to be powerful in image (Identity). When William Wallace begins to fight back against the English for slaughtering his wife, the French king (I think it was Philip IV at this time) and his court have heard about insurrection within English land and are unwilling to acknowledge English power to claim French land. Although the time and setting is not nearly contemporary or modern, the application of ideas within the text are still plausible and well-supported.

There is one section in the text that I particularly don’t agree with, which is where the author states that scholars are not as concerned with the significance of territories among constituents of identity as common myths and historical memories, common public culture, common legal rights and duties, common economy, and territorial mobility. The author then states that scholars are more interested in social and discursive construction of territory and territoriality or in ho =w these become part of historical narratives and myths of a nation as well as the local daily life. This is coined as “banal nationalism”. Why are scholars not concerned with the some of the main reasons why people associate among themselves. Commonalities between people breed strong connections and formulate combined ideas, such as concepts of territory. I don’t understand why this isn’t of greater concern.

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