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The Fate of Territorial Engineering: Mechanisms of Territorial Power ....

Grahame F Thompson

CSGR Working Paper No. 142/04

October 2004



Does there exist a genuine threat to the continuation of a broadly liberal international (and domestic) order, driven by the re-emergence of religious and secular fundamentalisms? This paper assesses this issue in the context of, first the rise of territorial power and then its fate in a period of globalization and the revival of religious intolerance. The twin concepts of sovereign-power and bio-power are deployed to investigate the emergence of territorial engineering in the 18th century. A key feature of modern fundamentalisms is that they promote and trade-off the deterritorialization of social, political, cultural and economic activity. It is argued that this is a manifestation of a new form of ‘spiritual martial power’. The risks associated with these developments should not be over-exaggerated but they exists nonetheless. If this is the case, the problem becomes one of how to re-territorializes the activities and disputes engendered by this reappearance and re-emergence of spiritual martial power with its link to religious fundamentalism. Here the argument is that this requires a re-examination of the nature of international borders, and indeed a re-emphasis on their role, not just in respect to containing disorder and restoring the capacity for governance, but also as a way of re-configuring international toleration and of righting a wrong.




Key words: territory, borders, tolerance, international system, liberal governance, religious fundamentalism, sovereign power, bio-power.



Address for correspondence

Grahame F Thompson

Department of Politics and International Studies

The Open University

Walton Hall

Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK