Response to antonsich: The role of history

Stuart Elden

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This response to Marco Antonsich focuses on a few key issues. Contrary to the suggestion that I focus more on a term than an idea, or that my way of working is mere etymology or philology, I stress the importance of thinking the relation between words, concepts and practices. To look at any one alone is misleading and historically impoverished. I further underline the historical-conceptual question when thinking how to account for what Antonsich calls 'territorial formations' before territory. I suggest that to be faithful to these political-spatial arrangements we do need to be terminologically precise, and not import later words or conceptions into our understanding of them. Finally I discuss Antonsich's proposed notion of 'the territorial' and my supposed neglect of the social: again I insist on the role of history in any adequate political theory of territory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-429
Number of pages4
JournalProgress in Human Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • boundaries
  • conceptual history
  • genealogy
  • territory

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