Rethinking Concept of Territory in Iran's Political Geography literature

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor of Political Geography Tehran University


No doubt that the specialized vocabulary in every science, represented those science, and scientific language as an integral part of every science. Any scientific study requires the loss of a coherent set of specific vocabulary of the discipline, synonyms for them, and suggest them to precisely define the areas of disagreement and eliminate possible misunderstandings.
The etymological origin of ‘territory’ is often traced back to the Latin ‘terra’ (geographic area) and ‘terrere’ (to frighten: to terrorise).Territory is back. For long something of a poor relation among spatial concepts, and until recently on the wane politically, territory today seems to be ever more important. Borders, security, sovereignty, secession, invasion and occupation—all usually seen as close correlates of territory—are rarely out of the news. Meanwhile, in political theory and philosophy, the fashionable notion of deterritorialisation cannot be separated from a correlative reterritorialisation. Territory’s time has come, or so it seems.
If any kind of space is quintessentially “state space”, it is surely “territory”. Yet, for all the far-reaching discussion of the territorial re-organization of the contemporary state, the decline and rise of the political salience of territory, and the implications of territory for the exercise of power, the nature of territory itself—it's being and becoming, rather than its consequences and effects—remains under-theorized and too often taken for granted. The intense engagement with diverse forms of social theory that has marked human geography since the 1980s has involved a comprehensive interrogation and re-thinking of many of the core concepts of the discipline, including space, place, landscape, region and scale. Until recently, however, the concept of territory has not received the same level of attention, at least in the Anglophone literature.
It is interesting to think about the reasons for this relative neglect. It seems plausible to suggest that among critical human geographers the concept of territory may even have been seen as something of an embarrassment. There are a couple of possible explanations for this, particularly if we accept for the sake of argument that territory has usually been understood as a bounded and in some respects homogeneous portion of geographical space.
Geographical thinking in the 1980s and 1990s came increasingly to emphasize the porosity and fluidity of boundaries, and the supposedly consequent reduction in their political salience. It also stressed the increasingly (or even intrinsically) heterogeneous character of space and place. In these circumstances, invoking the concept of territory risked being seen as either anachronistic (because the world had changed) or reactionary (because an insistence on seeing the world in terms of bounded and homogenous spaces suggested a fear of Otherness and an exclusionary attitude to social and cultural difference).
The concept of territory may also have been embarrassing for some because of its ill-defined, but powerful associations with the use of similar concepts in animal ethology and socio-biology. After all, one of the commonest uses of the term “territory” in general discourse is to refer to the home range of an animal, particularly with reference to aggressive and defensive behaviors. Of course, anything that risks smuggling socio-biological assumptions into studies of human activity is anathema to most critical social scientists. A similar mistrust of ideas smacking of environmental determinism may have added to the suspicion with which the concept of territory has sometimes been regarded.
Although many discussions of territory suggest that it is fundamentally a political phenomenon, the perception that it also often involves fixed borders perhaps raised the spectre of “natural boundaries” and nineteenth century understandings about the relationship between culture and environment: desert peoples, mountain peoples, forest peoples and plains peoples; each with a special ineffable bond between culture, nature and “territory”.
The assertion of territorial control has been explained as an innate, instinctive inclination of human beings to possess and to defend an area against intruders, similar to animals. Although every individual human being requires some space to live, and feels emotionally attached to certain places, the diversity of political entities in the past and present shows that neither individuals nor social collectives seek instinctively fixed, closed, and clearly demarcated territories for their survival or the protection of property. People may feel more comfortable and relaxed when they control ‘their’ territory, yet the scale and size of the territory they consider as their ‘natural’ home, or as their fatherland - their backyard, city, region, village, state, federation, neighborhood, empire, etc. - is indeterminate.
Political Geography has several concepts such as place, space, scale and territory, and so that the concepts are disputed. Concept of territory, according to many experts in the field of political geography, one of the most controversial concepts in this field. Choose the appropriate equivalent can help audience for easy understand. This study is fundamental theoretical, and descriptive analysis using primary sources in Persian and Latin, try to find the nature of the concept of territory and introduce appropriate equivalent in Persian political geography literature. As research founding's in appropriate equivalent for territory shows, political geographers use it in different meanings, beyond the understanding of natural geographers as a framework for natural processes, and also as human geographers consider the term mentioned as a static field of human events. In terms of political geography, territory is not only mere space for human action as physical framework, but is a clear reflection of "power relations between political actors", So that in several important aspects of social life and social power, such as function of "space control", "political actors", "borders and apply the monopoly rule" arises. So territory is field that individuals try to control by methods such as "defense", "control", "exclusion" and "inclusion", thus territory, in political geography literature confined space is defined by a boundary, that provides power and control for state; And thus the territory consist of the land, because the land is the physical and human (non-political) domain.


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