Territory

Before reading this post, I want you to open a new tab and Google the word “territory”.  The first definition states that a territory is an area of land under the jurisdiction of a ruler or state.  Breaking down the Google definition, there must be a physical place which is governed by an individual or a state.  Now looking at the reading, how does the definition the book offers compare to the definition someone would find if they googled it.  Here is the opening sentence from this weeks reading, “…territory is a compromise between a mythical aspect and a rational pragmatic.”  First, the authors are saying that a territory is a compromise, which is an agreement.  This goes along with the term “jurisdiction” which is the official power to make legal decisions and judgments.  The next part of the definition, states that the compromise must be between a mythical aspect (which a myth is a widely held but false belief or idea based on its definition) and a rational pragmatic (which is an idea based on reason or logic that deals with things in a realistic ways).  I guess this would be the idea of the ruler and or state from the Google definition. Having to break this definition down has helped me understand the books definition of territory.  The book often uses words that can be a little overwhelming to the point that I have to re-read certain sections in order to understand what is going on.

The book also states that territory can be one of three things. First, it can be what most people see it as a piece of land.  Secondly, it can be seen as a seat of power.  And finally, it can be seen as a functional space.  All of these three ideas give it a sense of identity and authority.

Since the 1970’s only a few studies have been written on the term territory.  One of the concepts the book talks about from one of these studies is how the concept that territory being an expression of the basic nature of human beings social life.  Through some of our class discussions, we have talked about how social and cultural factors that are used to construct states and places.  Much can also be said when it comes to territories as well.

So can territories have identities?  When we looked at states and places, both of which have national identities, which the book says, are complex dimensions of nationalism and the national state.  If we look back at the definition the book says, territory is a compromise between a mythical aspects, which can include cultural aspects that ultimately create a representation of the territory.  So I believe that territories can have identities.  After reading this chapter, we are starting to really see all these different types of sub-categories that play roles in political geography.

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One Response to Territory

  1. icpantale says:

    Definitely when looking at that definition at the beginning of Paasi’s text saying that a territory has a sacred heritage as well as the more obvious requirements.This certainly doesn’t do us any favors when trying to get a clear idea of what territory is. But it does certainly give way to possibilities of territory having identity and feeling rather than being cut and dry space occupied by a state or just a states area of jurisdiction. I think it associates it closer with place than space and gives much more complexity to the term. This of course can change with the nature of the state but it seems to me that this small addition to the definition of territory allows the citizens of the territory a bit more control of their collective power and that any power placed over them is one of voluntary participation or self-prescribed delegation of responsibility. We as individuals are sovereign to the extent that we have free will to participate in the state or not.

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