I will be giving two talks on The Birth of Territory this month in Melbourne.
27 February 2014, 5pm, “The Birth of Territory”, RMIT University, Melbourne (Swanston Academic Building SAB, B80 L3 R15, City Campus) – flyer
Here’s the abstract – most of this will be familiar to people who’ve heard me talk on this book before (and especially those who have read it…), but I hope the concluding part and discussion will open up some of my current interests.
This talk will provide an overview of my 2013 book The Birth of Territory, which traces the emergence of this crucial concept in Western political thought. In the first part I suggest that territory needs to be related to, yet not reduced to, ‘land’ and ‘terrain’, which are political-economic and political-strategic relations. Territory needs to be additionally understood in terms of its relation to space, a calculative category that is dependent on the existence of a range of techniques, and political-legal questions. Territory then can be understood as a political technology: it comprises techniques for measuring land and controlling terrain, and we must therefore think measure and control—the technical and the legal—alongside the economic and strategic. The second part offers an account of a few moments in the emergence of this concept – looking briefly at temporal power theorists, the rediscovery of Roman law, German debates in the seventeenth century, and some political techniques. It closes with a few comments on where my work on territory and related questions is currently going.
I’ve decided not to give talks in Sydney and Brisbane on this trip – though I appreciated the invitations – and hope we can work out dates in 2015 when I’m next here. I will also be giving a talk on Foucault at the University of Melbourne in early March. Details here when confirmed.