At the root of our understanding of territory is the concept of terra—land—a surface of fixed points with stable features that can be calculated, categorised, and controlled. But what of the many spaces on Earth that defy this simplistic characterisation: Oceans in which ‘places’ are continuously re-formed? Air that can never be fully contained? Watercourses that obtain their value by transcending boundaries?
This book examines the politics of these spaces to shed light on the challenges of our increasingly dynamic world. Through a focus on the planet’s elements, environments, and edges, the contributors to Territory beyond Terra extend our understanding of territory to the dynamic, contentious spaces of contemporary politics.
Foreword, Stuart Elden / 1. Introduction, Kimberley Peters, Philip Steinberg, Elaine Stratford / PART I: Elements / 2. Earth: A grain of sand against a world of territory: experiences of sand and sandscapes in China, Marijn Nieuwenhuis / 3. Air: Spacing the atmosphere: the politics of territorialising air, Weiqiang Lin / 4. Water: Order and the offshore: the territories of deep-water oil production, Jon Phillips / 5. Fire: Pyropolitics for a world of fire, Nigel Clark / PART II: Environments / 6. Mudflats: Fluid terrain: climate contestations in the mudflats of the Bolivian highlands, Clayton Whitt / 7. Floodplains: Where sheets of water intersect: infrastructural culture from flooding to hydropower in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Stephanie C. Kane / 8. Cities: Mare-Magnum: urbanisation of land and sea, Ross Exo Adams / 9. Ice: Placing territory on ice: militarisation, measurement and murder in the High Arctic, Johanne Bruun, Philip Steinberg / PART III: Edges / 10. Bodies: The body of the drowned: convicts and shipwrecks, Elaine Stratford, Thérèse Murray / 11. Boats: Settler colonial territorial imaginaries: maritime mobilities and the ‘tow-backs’ of asylum seekers, Kate Coddington / 12. Shores: Sharks, nets and more-than-human territory in eastern Australia, Leah Gibbs / 13. Seabeds: Sub-marine territory: living and working on the seafloor during the Sealab II experiment, Rachael Squire
In a time and space marked indelibly by anthropogenic impact, Territory Beyond Terra offers new maps to comprehend our changing worlds. This fine book shows the intimate links between natural elements, geo-physical manifestations, and geopolitical power. It offers ways to understand the politics of the geo, but also shows how new politics can be shaped through and with the geo.
How do air, water, fire, and earth interact with each other and with contemporary human political imagination around parcelling of space? Various scholars in this interesting collection engage with this question using radical and eclectic theoretical, philosophical and empirical resources and make an important contribution in challenging the land-centrism of dominant academic approaches to territory. Territory will never feel the same after reading this book.
This thought-provoking book interlaces the competition for primacy of how the place where humans live is defined and its continuous process of becoming, juxtaposed against a well fitted, defined “horizon of separation.” The power of the planet Earth, its surfaces and its elements to render unsovereign or sovereign a nation is magnificently displayed in this book. Framed in this way, Earth, its surface and elements are both the creator and created. The elements are sovereign and travel where they will, putting into perspective “…the limits of human agency, individual or collective” to produce a “political-social-geophysical transformation,” while not limiting human agency in climate change. In developing a “political theory of terrain” Territory Beyond Terra advocates for the need to engage in a unified inquiry of “… air, water, soil, rock, ice, and biota” and the political implications of this integration.
From sand, airspace, ice-islands, to the city and back, Territory beyond Terra is a direct call to move with and beyond territory as both solid or landed, but fast or slow moving, fluidic, chaotic, stubborn, hot, cold, immersive (sometimes dangerously so) but also icy, slippery, fleshy, decomposing and dead. Peters, Steinberg, Stratford and their contributors have made an incredible volume and let loose a new territory of thinking to disturb and inspire us.
This is an original, fascinating book that focuses upon the extraordinary diversity of the meanings of 'Terra' and its Symbols', its words and meanings according to different lands. Here etymology brings about a unique original approach and invites us to reflect upon the novel meanings of geopolitics at a time marked by turbulence and instability, by combining philosophy and geography.
Kimberley Peters is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography in the Department of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool, UK.
Philip Steinberg is a Professor of Political Geography at Durham University, UK, where he directs IBRU: the Centre for Borders Research.
Elaine Stratford is a Professor in the Institute for the Study of Social Change at the University of Tasmania. She is also the lead editor of Rowman & Littlefield International’s series Rethinking the Island.