CSGR Working Paper No. 142/04
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
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK