John Agnew
University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA (USA)


The roles of territory and borders in the genesis of conflicts have come under increased scrutiny in international relations and political geography over the past ten years. In this paper I want to focus on three intellectual trends that indicate a rapprochement between scholars in both fields over the “way forward” beyond a number of the previously more stereotyped positions concerning the persisting relevance of territory and borders to world politics. One of these is an increased resistance to and articulation of alternatives to a simple state-centrism. A second is an emphasis on the persistence/revival of geographical imaginations at work in world politics even as particular historic examples of these associated, for example, with specific geopolitical configurations (such as those of the Cold War) are in abeyance. Finally, an important trend is a reorienting of the discussion about the spatiality of world politics away from the either/or of territory versus networks and flows to an appreciation of their mutual effects.

Keywords: Territory, geographical imagination, state-centrism, spatiality