Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

Creating a space for politics: Territory and political theory.

Edgerton, Barton T (2008) Creating a space for politics: Territory and political theory. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Download (8MB) | Preview


Territory is an important part of contemporary political debates but there is an odd silence about the concept of territory in contemporary political theory. The unraveling of colonization and concerns over global justice should make territory a central aspect of political theory, yet it is not. This silence has the curious feature of recalling the original justifications for territorial acquisition. Because territory is neglected by contemporary thinkers, it is important to return to theorists such as Grotius, Hobbes, Locke, Pufendof and Kant for a critical engagement with the concept of territory. Understanding the arguments of these thinkers illuminate the presuppositions of present day theorists and contributes to the understanding of contemporary theoretical problems. The thesis is organized into eight chapters. The first two chapters consider the neglect of territory in political theory the role of territory in international law. This sets up the three middle chapters which are critical engagements with historical thinkers organized around three conceptions of territory: territory as possession, as property and as jurisdiction. Contemporary cosmopolitanism is inspired, in part, by unraveling of colonization and a concern for global justice. Chapter 6 considers the relationship between contemporary cosmopolitanism and the legacy of the historical conceptions of territory. The next chapter investigates the communitarian critique of cosmopolitanism and the role of identity in territorial claims. At first glance there seems to be good reasons for contemporary theory to presuppose or ignore territory. However, the answer, though skeptical, is more subtle. Following Rawls and others, contemporary theory is right to remain silent about territory and about property in territory. The main skepticism is about arguments for colonial restitution or global redistribution of resources. This is because many take a crude territory as property view - which when abandoned seems to leave the world un-owned and therefore subject to equal distribution or claims. Yet skepticism is not the only alternative. Jurisdiction entails some elements of the territory as property view. This is a more sophisticated claim than the straight territory as property argument. Here ownership is a secondary but important claim states make in the absence of a binding universal norm. As a result there is a prima facie but not indefeasible right to particular territory. Identity plays a role in linking peoples to places. It also raises the bar to colonial restitution and global resource redistribution. This legitimates the current view of territory in political theory and international law where territory is pre-supposed but not theorized.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Political Science, International Law and Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics