Stuart Elden, “Territory – Political Technology, Volume, Terrain”, video of Architectural Association lecture

The video of my lecture on “Territory – Political Technology, Volume, Terrain“, given as a Landscape Urbanism Open School Event, Architectural Association lecture on  7/10/2015 is now available. The volume is very quiet, and it begins a few moments in due to a recording problem. For those that know what I’ve published on these topics, there will not be much new, but this was for an MA student audience, and may be a good introduction to my work.

Territory is a political and geographical notion, of course, but can only be adequately understood if we understand its implications in a range of registers, including economic, strategic, legal, and technical ones. Territory can be un- derstood, following Foucault, as a political technology – not simply as a container or site of political struggle, but as a contested political process.

The particular focus of this talk will be on the physical, material nature of territory. It will think about the relation of territory to terrain, which is a geo-strategic question, an important concept in both physical and military geography. Terrain is important because it combines materiality, strategy and the need to go beyond a narrow, two-dimensional sense of the cartographic imagination. Instead, terrain forces us to account for the complexity of height and depth, the question of volume. Terrain also makes possible, or constrains, various military-strategic projects.

All attempts at fixing and defending territorial boundaries are complicated by dynamic features of the Earth, includ- ing rivers, oceans, polar-regions, glaciers, airspace and the sub-surface, both the sub-soil and the sub-marine. These questions are crucial for a political-legal theory of territory more generally. Essentially the key question is: how can theories of territory better account for the complexities of the geophysical and the built environment?

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This entry was posted in Boundaries, Eyal Weizman, Politics, terrain, Territory, Terror and Territory, The Birth of Territory. Bookmark the permalink.

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