This is the talk I’ll be giving at the ‘Extraterritoriality’ conference of the Exterritory project – Paris, May 2nd.
This talk seeks to explore what it means to be outside territory. It does so in three registers. First, it discusses what is meant, and has been meant, by ‘territory’ and therefore to outline forms of political space which are not territory, and are outside it conceptually. In doing so, it sketches some aspects of a much longer account of the history of the concept of territory in Western political thought. Contrary to many accounts, territory is not that central or even general a category of geography; not all problems should be seen through a territorial lens; and while it is certainly of fundamental importance in the modern period, territory historically is not the key concept of political theory and its relation to place. Rather we should recognise the emergence of a concept out of a complicated and multi-layer set of chronologies, fragments and aporias. Second, following this, if territory has a history, and emerged at a particular conjuncture, then it follows that before this there were political-spatial orderings that were not territory. The talk therefore provides some examples of configurations of the relation between power and place that were not territorial, that is what is outside territory historically. Last, it looks at what it means to be outside territory politically. The final theme is exemplified not through contemporary examples but through readings of the question of banishment in the plays of William Shakespeare, in particular Richard II, The Tempest and Coriolanus.