Territory

We have reached the point of realization that nothing is straight forward or as clear as we once thought. As Dr. Radil likes to put it, “clear as mud.” It has become a common, underlying theme, and we as geographers are left to try and decipher these intricate words and ideas. Continuing with this trend, this week we discuss territory and what territory is, or is thought to be. This term can be hard to understand once again, more so because it can take on many different meanings, and it can mean something different to everyone. As it says in the chapter by Paasi, it is a vague concept, and is implied in many different forms within geography, and political geography more specifically.

One important point to hit is the idea of territory as a social process. In this section, it considers territory as social processes in which social space and social action are inseparable. “Territory is not; it becomes.” This says that territory is always changing. In society, territory is made, destroyed and given meaning through social and individual action. As the chapter continues, it discusses that territory becomes what it is through social practices by a means of abstract, cultural symbolism, from neighborhoods to nation-states. All societies have different conceptions of space and place, and the same goes for territoriality. One common form that pulls it all together is the component of power, creating and maintaining social order.

This coincides with the idea of territory and identity. With national territory comes national identity. As the chapter states, national identity brings together the dimensions of nationalism and the national state. Though territory can be seen as more of an idea, it is the link between a nation/society and it’s state. This can create a sense of nationalism, or imagined community, which are the individuals who collectively identify together without knowing each other, whether through pride or power.

Paasi ends with the idea that every state has different orientations, and it is okay to have unclear boundaries. They will always differ depending on the type of boundary and ultimate goal behind or within every boundary. The intent of a boundary of power is different than a boundary of wealth, and a cultural boundary serves its own purpose as well. Many times, boundaries and structures overlap, even without knowing. Through the differences between all types of boundaries for whatever reason, we form identity, and identify for a purpose. When considering the idea of identity and the fact that all regions identify as something different, the idea of a borderless world, as the chapter ends, is not so foreign as it may seem.

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