Missing the point: globalization, deterritorialization and the space of the world

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This article provides a critique of a dominant strand of the literature on globalization – that which suggests it can be understood as deterritorialization. It argues that suggestions that we have moved away from territorial understandings of politics fail to conceptually elaborate the notion of territory itself. Drawing parallels between mathematics and politics in the seventeenth century, the paper claims that the notion of territory is dependent on a particular way of grasping space as calculable. This way of understanding space makes bounded territories possible, but also underlies new global configurations. In other words globalization is a reconfiguration of existing understandings rather than the radical break some suggest. The article concludes by making some comments on this reconfiguration, and suggesting that further historical and conceptual work on territory is necessary before it can be thought to be superseded.

Keywords: Descartes; Leibniz; Westphalia; geometry; globalization; territory

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5661.2005.00148.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Durham, Durham DH1 3LE, Email: stuartelden@btconnect.com

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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