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The Birth of Territory$
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Stuart Elden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226202563

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226041285.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Birth of Territory

Stuart Elden

University of Chicago Press

This introductory chapter first discusses why territory matters today, and then provides some conceptual clarity. It suggests that work on a related but distinct term of territoriality, in either the biological or the social uses of this term, are not particularly profitable ways to approach the historically more specific category of ‘territory’. Instead, ideas of ‘land’ and ‘terrain’ are examined, suggesting that these political-economic and political-strategic relations are essential to understanding ‘territory’, yet ultimately insufficient. Territory needs to be understood in terms of its relation to space, a calculative category that is dependent on the existence of a range of techniques and legal practices. Territory can be thought as a political technology. The chapter also discusses the relation between the word, concept and practice of territory, and outlines the methodological concerns of the inquiry in relation to genealogy, conceptual history and the history of political thought.

Keywords:   Jean-Jacques Rousseau, land, terrain, territory, conceptual history, Begriffsgeschichte, Quentin Skinner, Michel Foucault, Genealogy, political technology

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