The Birth of Territory reviewed in Antipode by Phillip Campanile

12 The Birth of TerritoryThere is a critical review of The Birth of Territory by Phillip Campanile in Antipode (pdf)Campanile clearly found the book frustrating in its mode of execution, but also not linked explicitly enough to contemporary debates. As he rightly notes, though, the book sits alongside my earlier Terror and Territory, which I always saw as the best answer I can provide to why this all matters today. Nonetheless, a disappointing review.

Update: Peter Gratton has a nice discussion of the review here.

Update 2: Phillip Campanile replies in comments.

This entry was posted in My Publications, Politics, Territory, Terror and Territory, The Birth of Territory. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Birth of Territory reviewed in Antipode by Phillip Campanile

  1. Philip says:

    It’s a slightly odd review. It criticises the notion of a *Birth* of Territory without mentioning that the title is an obvious nod to Foucault’s Birth of Biopolitics (how anyone could miss that I’m not sure). I dislike reviews that criticise a book for not being something that it was never intended to be (in this case a hegemony-smashing page-turner instead of a dry, painstaking and self-consciously scholarly excavation of a concept). It’s right up there with ‘but they didn’t mention my area of interest’ in crap review tropes.

  2. Philip Campanile says:

    For the record, I loved Birth of Territory as a work of conceptual history. Really, it was extraordinary. And I was not being glib when I said the book’s constant awareness of historical and geographical specificity was admirable.The suggestion – that Mr. Gratton makes – that I criticized it as being too ensconced in history is simply wrong. But if you measure the book as a work of genealogy – as Mr. Elden encourages us to do – it can only be seen as successful in combination with the 2009 text, as noted. I’m fine with the fact that the reading was tedious, that style and “nowness” were relegated to the intellectual project. So what? That is simply the outcome of the book’s aim and method, not a criticism (as I said!). But doesn’t one also review a book for other potential readers? I was trying to characterize the method and organization that drove the text; they were both compelling and challenging (in a productive way). I don’t think my characterization was unfair. It is unsexy. That doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting. I say kudos to Mr. Elden for writing such a dedicated work. It’s an incredible resource, as I suggested, and I’m grateful to have it.

    -Phillip Campanile (original reviewer)

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