What's shifting?

Stuart Elden

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This response to John Allen (2011) focuses on the understandings of geometry, topology, topography and territory used in the article. I challenge his largely ahistorical renderings of these terms, suggesting that these terms cannot be seen as static, and therefore put into convenient oppositions. Territory, for instance, is not simply a bounded space, and therefore topographical, which can be criticized as reductive. Rather territory is a dynamic, historically produced concept and practice, which can take on the form of a bounded space in particular circumstances. Allen's article also often risks confusing an object of analysis with a mode of approach: territory is not something that is the explanation, but the thing that needs explaining. In sum, the question is whether it is the object of analysis that is shifting, or our way of understanding it. It may be both, but the historical-conceptual weaknesses of the account offered here make it difficult to tell.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-307
Number of pages4
JournalDialogues in Human Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • geometry
  • history
  • power
  • space
  • territory
  • topography
  • topology

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