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Original Essays | September 4, 2014

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The Birth of Territory


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Territory is one of the central political concepts of the modern world and, indeed, functions as the primary way the world is divided and controlled politically. Yet territory has not received the critical attention afforded to other crucial concepts such as sovereignty, rights, and justice. While territory continues to matter politically, and territorial disputes and arrangements are studied in detail, the concept of territory itself is often neglected today. Where did the idea of exclusive ownership of a portion of the earth’s surface come from, and what kinds of complexities are hidden behind that seemingly straightforward definition?
The Birth of Territory provides a detailed account of the emergence of territory within Western political thought. Looking at ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and early modern thought, Stuart Elden examines the evolution of the concept of territory from ancient Greece to the seventeenth century to determine how we arrived at our contemporary understanding. Elden addresses a range of historical, political, and literary texts and practices, as well as a number of key players—historians, poets, philosophers, theologians, and secular political theorists—and in doing so sheds new light on the way the world came to be ordered and how the earth’s surface is divided, controlled, and administered.

About the Author

Stuart Elden is professor of political theory and geography at the University of Warwick. He is the author of four books, including, most recently, Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty.

Table of Contents




Part I

1.    The Polis and the Khora

       Autochthony and the Myth of Origins

       Antigone and the Polis

       The Reforms of Kleisthenes

       Plato’s Laws

       Aristotle’s Politics

       Site and Community

2.    From Urbis to Imperium

       Caesar and the Terrain of War

       Cicero and the Res Publica

       The Historians: Sallust, Livy, Tacitus

       Augustus and Imperium

       The Limes of the Imperium

Part II

3.    The Fracturing of the West

       Augustine’s Two Cities

       Boethius and Isidore of Seville

       The Barbarian Tribes and National Histories

       Land Politics in Beowulf

4.    The Reassertion of Empire

       The Donation of Constantine

       The Accession of Charlemagne

       Cartography from Rome to Jerusalem

       The Limits of Feudalism

5.    The Pope’s Two Swords

       John of Salisbury and the Body of the Republic

       Two Swords: Spiritual and Temporal Power

       The Rediscovery of Aristotle

       Thomas Aquinas and the Civitas

6.    Challenges to the Papacy

       Unam Sanctum: Boniface VIII and Philip the Fair

       Dante: Commedia and Monarchia

       Marsilius of Padua and the Rights of the City

       William of Ockham and the Politics of Poverty

Part III

7.    The Rediscovery of Roman Law

       The Labors of Justinian and the Glossators

       Bartolus of Sassoferrato and the Territorium

       Baldus de Ubaldis and the Civitas-Populus

       Rex Imperator in Regno Suo

8.    Renaissance and Reconnaissance

       Machiavelli and Lo Stato

       The Politics of Reformation

       Bodin, République, Sovereignty

       Botero and Ragione di Stato

       King Lear: “Interest of Territory, Cares of State”

9.    The Extension of the State

       The Consolidation of the Reformation

       The Geometry of the Political

       The Divine Right of Kings: Hobbes, Filmer, and Locke

       “Master of a Territory”

Coda: Territory as a Political Technology



Product Details

Elden, Stuart
University of Chicago Press
World history -- Historiography.
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
9 halftones, 6 line drawings
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Geography » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Historiography

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