Claudio Minca, Jeremy W. Crampton, Joe Bryan, Juliet J. Fall, Alex B. Murphy, Anssi Paasi, Stuart Elden, “Reading Stuart Elden’s The Birth of Territory“, Political Geography, article in press (requires subscription or email me).
The Birth of Territory is an outstanding scholarly achievement, a book ‘of remarkable depth and breadth’, as noted by Alec Murphy in his comment, a book that already promises to become a ‘classic’ in geography, together with very few others published in the past decades. But Elden’s book is also a difficult one to position within mainstream human geography. Its genealogical engagement with multiple sources/texts in various historical and linguistic contexts is far reaching, and it has very few precedents in the discipline since it is deliberately inspired by the Cambridge school of contextual history, and the German tradition of Begriffsgeschichte, conceptual history. The Birth of Territory is also methodologically challenging, as its account of territory is carved out of a clear selection of ‘presences and absences’ operated by the author that, like all work of this kind, is open to criticism in relation to the strategies of inclusion/exclusion (of texts, concepts, people) adopted. What follows is a brief account of an Author meets Critics panel on The Birth of Territory held at the AAG Conference held in Tampa in April 2014.
Juliet’s contribution is a commentary on the short animated film she made for the event. My thanks to all involved, especially Claudio and Jeremy for organsing the event.