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Paper $32.00 ISBN: 9780226202570 Published September 2013
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Cloth $97.00 ISBN: 9780226202563 Published September 2013
E-book $10.00 to $32.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226041285 Published September 2013 Also Available From
512 pages | 9 halftones, 6 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2013
Territory is one of the central political concepts of the modern world and, indeed, functions as the primary way the world is divided and controlled politically. Yet territory has not received the critical attention afforded to other crucial concepts such as sovereignty, rights, and justice. While territory continues to matter politically, and territorial disputes and arrangements are studied in detail, the concept of territory itself is often neglected today. Where did the idea of exclusive ownership of a portion of the earth’s surface come from, and what kinds of complexities are hidden behind that seemingly straightforward definition?
The Birth of Territory provides a detailed account of the emergence of territory within Western political thought. Looking at ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and early modern thought, Stuart Elden examines the evolution of the concept of territory from ancient Greece to the seventeenth century to determine how we arrived at our contemporary understanding. Elden addresses a range of historical, political, and literary texts and practices, as well as a number of key players—historians, poets, philosophers, theologians, and secular political theorists—and in doing so sheds new light on the way the world came to be ordered and how the earth’s surface is divided, controlled, and administered.

    Table of Contents


    Part I
    1.    The Polis and the KhoraHandbag EMILIO Pink EMILIO PUCCI PUCCI F0xYqF
           Autochthony and the Myth of Origins
           Antigone and the Polis
           The Reforms of Kleisthenes
           Plato’s Laws
           Aristotle’s Politics
           Site and Community
    2.    From Urbis to Imperium
           Caesar and the Terrain of War
           Cicero and the Res Publica
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           The Historians: Sallust, Livy, Tacitus
           Augustus and Imperium
           The Limes of the Imperium

    Part II
    3.    The Fracturing of the West
           Augustine’s Two Cities
           Boethius and Isidore of Seville
           The Barbarian Tribes and National Histories
    Le documents Cuir Noir Porte Audacieux Tanneur xO64Enw1x       Land Politics in Beowulf
    4.    The Reassertion of Empire
           The Donation of Constantine
           The Accession of Charlemagne
           Cartography from Rome to Jerusalem
           The Limits of Feudalism
    5.    The Pope’s Two Swords
           John of Salisbury and the Body of the Republic
           Two Swords: Spiritual and Temporal Power
           The Rediscovery of Aristotle
           Thomas Aquinas and the Civitas
    6.    Challenges to the Papacy
           Unam Sanctum: Boniface VIII and Philip the Fair
           Dante: Commedia and Monarchia
           Marsilius of Padua and the Rights of the City
           William of Ockham and the Politics of Poverty
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    Part III
    7.    The Rediscovery of Roman Law
           The Labors of Justinian and the Glossators
           Bartolus of Sassoferrato and the Territorium
           Baldus de Ubaldis and the Civitas-Populus
           Rex Imperator in Regno Suo
    8.    Renaissance and Reconnaissance
           Machiavelli and Lo Stato
           The Politics of Reformation
           Bodin, République, Sovereignty
           Botero and Ragione di Stato
           King Lear: “Interest of Territory, Cares of State”
    9.    The Extension of the State
           The Consolidation of the Reformation
           The Geometry of the Political
           The Divine Right of Kings: Hobbes, Filmer, and Locke
           “Master of a Territory”

    Coda: Territory as a Political Technology
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  • Contents
  • Review Quotes
  • Awards
Review Quotes
Made bag buffalo 'Konan' handmade messenger Stitch Malt leather by David Storey, University of Worcester | Journal of Historical Geography
“Elden’s analysis of territory is based on a close reading of a range of writings from key scholars and thinkers, as well as poets, playwrights, and religious writers where we find Shakespeare and Beowulf resting alongside Aristotle and Plato. Starting with Greek mythology and ranging through the middle ages and renaissance periods through to the early modern era, Elden draws on original writings, translations of works, and commentaries on those works. In doing so, he appears to have read just about everything! . . . This is a work of history, political science, law, and philosophy as well as a work of geography. In telling the story of territory, Elden also touches usefully on a range of other issues such as the periodization of history and the retrospective application of terms such as ‘middle ages’ and ‘renaissance.’. . . The breadth of sources and the range of ideas mean that Elden is, in many respects, following on in a similar vein to many of the writers whose work he deals with here.”
Tom Conley, Harvard University | Imago Mundi
“Stuart Elden discusses, both copiously and elegantly, writings from Homer to Rousseau bearing witness to how place and power can be understood. From the Iliad to the Social Contract, territory, he concludes, is best defined in terms of political technology, the latter a lens through which the term resembles a mosaic of modes of measure and control. . . . The stunning virtue of The Birth of Territory is found in its sweep and intellectual panache.”
Gerry Kearns | Society and Space
“A masterful and useful book.”
Neil Brenner, Harvard University
“Stuart Elden has written a pathbreaking book on a foundational concept in modern political and geographical thought. Drawing together deep philosophical knowledge, historical understanding, and philological expertise, Elden’s pioneering investigation compels us fundamentally to rethink some of the basic assumptions regarding state space that have long underpinned modern political theory and social research. In so doing, Elden also opens up new horizons for understanding the transformed geographies of political life that are being produced under early twenty-first century conditions. A brilliant, provocative intervention.”—Neil Brenner, Harvard University
Malt messenger Made handmade bag leather Stitch 'Konan' buffalo by John Agnew, University of California, Los Angeles
“This is a brilliant intellectual exegesis of the concept of territory that will be of wide interest in a range of academic fields, from international relations to historical sociology and the history of political thought.”
David N. Livingstone, Queen’s University Belfast
“Stuart Elden’s The Birth of Territory is a wonderful achievement unmatched in previous writing on place, power, and politics. For it does nothing less than elucidate in remarkable detail a two-thousand-year history of the conditions for the very possibility of its own subject—the idea of territory itself. That is what makes it transcendental history of the first order.”

Geographical Review
“Elden is to be commended for his keen analysis that tackles rather complex issues of meaning and translation while remaining eminently readable.”
Theory, Culture & Society
“Elden deserves every accolade he receives for a remarkable book.  That phrase might suffice for a review, but it would hide the erudition that sets his book apart. . . . This powerful book is about words used as a political technology of power.  In the discipline of geoscience itself, it is as much about the work of labels in cartography as about that of figures in political theory. . . . In addition to all the compelling analyses, Elden’s work teaches us a lesson that even now we are at a watershed of  needing a new vocabulary to address the fluid and liquid and transient movement of politics, administration, economics, and war.”
Political Geography
“The Birth of Territory is an outstanding scholarly achievement . . . 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.”
American Historical Review
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“Elden’s The Birth of Territory, like his other works, is an impressive feat of erudition.”

'Konan' Made Stitch handmade messenger leather bag Malt by buffalo Association of American Geographers: Meridian Book Award

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Item No. 63238_SB42MLT

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