ELDEN, Stuart

Territory: Political Technology, Volume, Terrain

Series: Landscape Urbanism Open School Event
Date: Wednesday 7 October 2015
Time: 13:00
Venue: Lecture Hall
Running time: 97 mins

This lecture will give an overview of the concept and practice of territory. While the complicated and contested as- pects of territorial disputes are well known, territory also requires theoretical interrogation in order to grasp how it has been understood and practiced in different times and places.

Territory is a political and geographical notion, of course, but can only be adequately understood if we understand its implications in a range of registers, including economic, strategic, legal, and technical ones. Territory can be un- derstood, following Foucault, as a political technology – not simply as a container or site of political struggle, but as a contested political process.

The particular focus of this talk will be on the physical, material nature of territory. It will think about the relation of territory to terrain, which is a geo-strategic question, an important concept in both physical and military geography. Terrain is important because it combines materiality, strategy and the need to go beyond a narrow, two-dimensional sense of the cartographic imagination. Instead, terrain forces us to account for the complexity of height and depth, the question of volume. Terrain also makes possible, or constrains, various military-strategic projects.

All attempts at fixing and defending territorial boundaries are complicated by dynamic features of the Earth, includ- ing rivers, oceans, polar-regions, glaciers, airspace and the sub-surface, both the sub-soil and the sub-marine. These questions are crucial for a political-legal theory of territory more generally. Essentially the key question is: how can theories of territory better account for the complexities of the geophysical and the built environment?

Bio: Stuart Elden is Professor of Political Theory and Geography at University of Warwick and Monash-Warwick Professor at Monash University. He is the author of five books including The Birth of Territory (University of Chicago Press, 2013). He has been involved in editing several collections of Henri Lefebvre’s writings, and has edit- ed or co-edited books on Kant, Foucault and Sloterdijk. His next book is Foucault’s Last Decade (Polity Press, forthcoming 2016), and he is now working on its prequel, Foucault: The Birth of Power, as well as a project on territory in Shakespeare’s plays. He runs a blog at www.progressivegeographies.com


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The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Certificate), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.