Today is the last day of my Leverhulme major research fellowship. As of tomorrow I am on research leave.
The Leverhulme award was to work on the history of the concept of territory project. I’d already been working on that topic, on and off, for several years before I got the Leverhulme award, but have been devoted to it full time since. Well, I’ve also been editing Society and Space, which is a lot of work, and the Terror and Territory and Reading Kant’s Geography books, which were both supposed to be complete before it begun, spilled into it a bit. (Neither was exactly in my control.) And the Sloterdijk Now collection has keep me busy just recently. But I rarely work a standard working week, and I am confident that I’ve done what I said I wanted to do in the proposal, and have a near complete manuscript entitled The Birth of Territory as a result.
It’s been quite a journey – intellectually and literally. Just in the fellowship time it’s taken me to Singapore, London and Seattle for visiting posts, and there have been talks in a range of places – Ireland, Italy, Holland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Canada, the USA, Macau, and Japan. A whole host of amazing places have been seen along the way.
Although the earliest talk on this project dates back to 2000, I began seriously thinking about just what kind of project I had on my hands in early 2006. This was just after Speaking Against Number had appeared and I arrived in Tasmania for research leave with no deadline, no plan to write, but some time to read and think. I applied for the Leverhulme award shortly after my return. At that point I knew much better what I wanted to do, and what I needed to do it, namely time. Obviously things developed as I dived into this work full-time, and the lack of other pressures meant that I could do things differently than I could have done otherwise. The specific content, and the arguments within, have changed dramatically. But essentially the book I’ve delivered follows the contours of the outline I sketched in 2006.
So today was a day of transition. The manuscript lacks only an introduction and conclusion, and these will largely be shaped from material I’ve already drafted. That’s the task for the next couple of weeks.
I fly to Australia in mid February (via Singapore), for the fellowship at ANU, and the intention is again to read and think, without a looming deadline, about the next book, tentatively entitled The Space of the World…