Territoriality and beyond: problematizing modernity in international relations
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 May 2009
The concept of territoriality has been studied surprisingly little by students of international politics. Yet, territoriality most distinctively defines modernity in international politics, and changes in few other factors can so powerfully transform the modern world polity. This article seeks to frame the study of the possible transformation of modern territoriality by examining how that system of relations was instituted in the first place. The historical analysis suggests that “unbundled” territoriality is a useful terrain for exploring the condition of postmodernity in international politics and suggests some ways in which that exploration might proceed. The emergence of multiperspectival institutional forms is identified as a key dimension of the condition of postmodernity in international politics.
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95. Changing sensibilities are illustrated and analyzed at length by Elias, Norbert, The Civilizing Process (New York: Urizen Books, 1978).Google Scholar To illustrate only one aspect of medieval household organization as late as the fourteenth century, consider the following excerpts from Tuchman, A Distant Minor: “Even kings and popes received ambassadors sitting on beds furnished with elaborate curtains and spreads” (p. 161); “Even in greater homes guests slept in the same room with host and hostess” (p. 161), and often servants and children did too (p. 39); “Never was man less alone. … Except for hermits and recluses, privacy was unknown” (p. 39). See also Herlihy, David, Medieval Households (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985)Google Scholar; and Duby, Georges, ed., A History of Private Life, vol. 2, Revelations of the Medieval World, trans. Goldhammer, Arthur (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 1988).Google Scholar Martines documents that “Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439–1502)—the Sienese engineer, architect, painter, sculptor, and writer—was one of the first observers to urge that the houses of merchants and small tradesmen be constructed with a clean separation between the rooms intended for family use and those for the conduct of business.” See Martines, Lauro, Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), p. 271.Google Scholar Finally, the differentiation between person and office also evolved during this period. As Strong notes, “the possibility that one human being could separately be both a human being and a king—a notion on which our conception of office depends—is first elaborated by Hobbes in his distinction between natural and artificial beings in the Leviathan.” See Strong, Tracy, “Dramaturgical Discourse and Political Enactments: Toward an Artistic Foundation for Political Space,” in Lyman, Stanley and Brown, Richard, eds., Structure, Consciousness, and History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1974), p. 240.Google Scholar
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100. Marshall McLuhan made several offhand remarks in The Gutenberg Galaxy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962)Google Scholar about an alleged parallel between single-point perspective and nationalism. He thereby misdated the advent of nationalism by several centuries, however. Moreover, he was less concerned with developing the parallel than with attributing its cause to the cognitive impact of the medium of movable print. Nevertheless, I have found McLuhan's thinking enormously suggestive. The relationship between changing perspectival forms and the organization of cities and towns is explored extensively in the literature; see, among other works, Martines, Power and Imagination; and Argan, Giulio C., The Renaissance City (New York: George Braziller, 1969).Google Scholar
102. Walzer, “On the Role of Symbolism in Political Thought,” pp. 194–95, emphasis original.
103. For a rich and provocative discussion of the process of social empowerment domestically, see Albert Hirschman, O., The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977).Google Scholar As Hirschman puts it: “Weber claims that capitalist behavior and activities were the indirect (and originally unintended) result of a desperate search for individual salvation. My claim is that the diffusion of capitalist forms owed much to an equally desperate search for a way of avoiding society's ruin, permanently threatening at the time because of precarious arrangements for internal and external order” (p. 130, emphasis original). Thus, according to Hirschman, the ultimate social power of the bourgeoisie benefited from a shift in social values whereby commerce became socially more highly regarded—not because of any perceived intrinsic merit or interest in commerce but for the discipline and the restraint it was thought to impose on social behavior in a period of severe turbulence and grave uncertainty. Cf. Weber, Max, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Parsons, Talcott (New York: Scribners, 1958).Google Scholar Additional support for Hirschman's argument may be found in Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: “It looks, then, as if Machiavelli was in search of social means whereby men's natures might be transformed to the point where they became capable of citizenship” (p. 193).
104. Johnson, Jerah and Percy, William, The Age of Recovery: The Fifteenth Century (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1970), p. 56.Google Scholar
106. See Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment; and Guenee, Bernard, States and Rulers in Later Medieval Europe, trans. Vale, Juliet (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985).Google Scholar
107. Tilly, “Reflections on the History of European State-making,” p. 22.
110. Kaiser points out that all wars throughout the period I am here discussing had specific political and economic objectives, but that prior to the eighteenth century they also exhibited very complex overlays of other dimensions that have not been seen since. See Kaiser, David, Politics and War: European Conflict from Philip II to Hitler (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990), chap. 1.Google Scholar I am here attempting to capture and give expression to these other dimensions.
113. See Anderson, , Europe in the Eighteenth Century, 1713–1783Google Scholar; and Kaiser, Politics and War.
114. Dehio, Ludwig, The Precarious Balance (New York: Knopf, 1962).Google Scholar What Gilpin calls the cycle of hegemonic wars does not contradict my point. As defined by Gilpin, a “hegemonic war” concerns which power will be able to extract greater resources from and exercise greater control over the system of states; neither the nature of the units nor the nature of the system, for that matter, is at issue. In fact, Gilpin's description of the calculus of would-be hegemons suggests that hegemonic wars fit well into my generic category of positional wars. See Gilpin, Robert, War and Change in World Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
115. For a good discussion of this development, see Thomson, Janice E., “State Practices, International Norms, and the Decline of Mercenarism,” International Studies Quarterly 34 (03 1990), pp. 23–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar On the emergence of national sovereignty, see Arnold, Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983).Google Scholar
116. Strang has demonstrated the impact of reciprocal sovereignty for the entire history of European expansion into non-European territories since 1415. He finds that polities that were recognized as sovereign have fared much better than those that were not. See Strang, David, “Anomaly and Commonplace in European Political Expansion: Realist and Institutionalist Accounts,” International Organization 45 (Spring 1991), pp. 143–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
117. Grotius's immediate aim was to establish the principle of freedom to conduct trade on the seas, but in order to establish that principle he had first to formulate some doctrine regarding the medium through which ships passed as they engaged in long-distance trade. The principle he enunciated, and which states came to adopt, defined an oceans regime in two parts: a territorial sea under exclusive state control, which custom set at three miles because that was the range of land-based cannons at the time, and the open seas beyond, available for common use but owned by none. See Aster Institute, International Law: The Grotian Heritage (The Hague: Aster Institute, 1985).Google Scholar
118. The following discussion is based on Mattingly, Renaissance Diplomacy. Note Mattingly's summary of medieval practice, and contrast it with what we know to be the case for the modern world: “Kings made treaties with their own vassals and with the vassals of their neighbors. They received embassies from their own subjects and from the subjects of other princes, and sometimes sent agents who were in fact ambassadors in return. Subject cities negotiated with one another without reference to their respective sovereigns. Such behavior might arouse specific objection, but never on general grounds” (p. 23).
121. I adapt this notion from the discussion of unbundling sovereign rights in Kratochwil, “Of Systems, Boundaries and Territoriality.”
125. North and Weingast demonstrate this very nicely, both formally and empirically, in the case of seventeenth-century England—except for the overall logic they attribute to the process, which “interprets the institutional changes on the basis of the goals of the winners. ” See North, Douglass C. and Weingast, Barry R., “Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-century England,” Journal of Economic History 49 (12 1989), p. 803CrossRefGoogle Scholar, emphasis added. The problem with their interpretation is that the goals of the losers —the insatiable quest for revenues on the part of rulers—not of the winners, drove the process that ultimately made possible the imposition of constitutional constraints on the prerogatives of monarchs.
126. Discussing a biological parallel, Stephen Jay Gould contends that avian limbs became useful for flying once they were fully developed into wings, but they probably evolved for so commonplace a purpose as keeping birds warm. See Gould, , “Not Necessarily Wings,” Natural History 10/85.Google Scholar
127. Strong, “Dramaturgical Discourse and Political Enactments,” p. 245.
128. Tilly, “Reflections on the History of European State-making” p. 31. For a suggestive typology of different substantive state forms, see Mann, Michael, States, War, and Capitalism (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1988), chap. 1.Google Scholar
129. See Eldredge, Niles and Tattersall, Ian, The Myths of Human Evolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982).Google Scholar Eldredge, in a personal conversation, attributed the basic insight for the punctuated equilibrium model to the historian Frederick Teggart—which is ironic in the light of the influence that the Darwinian model of human evolution has had on social thinking, including historiography! See Teggart, Frederick J., Theory of History (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1925).Google Scholar Bock has described large-scale social change in similar terms: “In place of a continuous process of sociocultural change, the records clearly indicate long periods of relative inactivity among peoples, punctuated by occasional spurts of action. Rather than slow and gradual change, significant alterations in peoples' experiences have appeared suddenly, moved swiftly, and stopped abruptly”; see Bock, Kenneth, Human Nature and History: A Response to Sociobiology (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980), p. 165.Google Scholar Excellent discussions of punctuated equilibrium and path dependency in the origins of the modern state may be found in two articles by Krasner, Stephen D.: “Approaches to the State: Alternative Conceptions and Historical Dynamics,” Comparative Politics 16 (01 1984), pp. 223–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and “Sovereignty: An Institutional Perspective,” Comparative Political Studies 21 (04 1988), pp. 66–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
130. See Spruyt, “The Sovereign State and its Competitors.”
131. The so-called Arab nation is a case in point; see Hourani, Albert, A History of the Arab Peoples (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1991).Google Scholar
133. As Mackinder predicted, “Every explosion of social forces, instead of being dissipated in a surrounding circuit of unknown space and barbaric chaos, will be sharply re-echoed from the far side of the globe, and weak elements in the political and economic organism of the world will be shattered in consequence.” See ibid., p. 421.
134. There is no adequate English translation of Duby's notion l'imaginaire sociale, which I draw on here; his translator renders it as “collective imaginings.” See Duby, , The Three Orders, p. vii.Google Scholar
135. Skinner, Quentin, The Return of Grand Theory in the Human Sciences (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 12.Google Scholar
137. For examples, consult the extensive bibliography in Pauline Rosenau, “Once Again into the Fray.”
138. Feinberg, Gerald, What is the World Made Of? Atoms, Leptons, Quarks, and Other Tantalizing Particles (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1978), p. 9Google Scholar, emphasis added.
139. Using Kratochwil's typology, mainstream international relations theory traffics mostly in “the world of brute facts,” or the palpable here and now; it discounts “the world of intention and meaning”; and it largely ignores altogether “the world of institutional facts.” See Kratochwil, Friedrich, Rules, Norms, and Decisions (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), chap. 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
140. Structurationist theory is one recent attempt to formulate an ontology of international relations that is predicated on the need to endogenize the origins of structures and preferences, if transformation is to be understood. See Wendt, Alexander, “The Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations Theory,” International Organization 41 (Summer 1987), pp. 335–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Dessler, David, “What's at Stake in the Agent-Structure Debate?” International Organization 43 (Summer 1989), pp. 441–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Ruggie, John Gerard, “International Structure and International Transformation: Space, Time, and Method,” in Czempiel and Rosenau, Global Changes and Theoretical Challenges, pp. 21–35Google Scholar; Alexander Wendt and Raymond Duvall, “Institutions and International Order,” in ibid., pp. 51–73; and Wendt, Alexander, “Anarchy is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics,” International Organization 46 (Spring 1992), pp. 391–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
141. Once again, I have in mind a Lockean understanding, namely those “Inconveniences which disorder Mens properties in the state of Nature,” the avoidance of which is said to drive “Men [to] unite into Societies.” See Locke, Two Treatises of Government, sec. 2.136. These “social defects” thus may be thought of as the generic form of international “collective action problems,” of which various types of externalities, public goods, and dilemmas of strategic interaction are but specific manifestations.
142. This process is by no means free of controversy or resistance, as a recent London front-page headline (“Delors Plan to Rule Europe,”) makes clear—but historical change never has been. See Sunday Telegraph, 3 May 1992, p. 1.
143. At the time of writing, the Pentagon is considering, among other options, a “reconstitution” model for the U.S. defense-industrial base, now that large and long-term procurement runs are unlikely to persist widely. It has proved extraordinarily difficult, however, to decide whether what should be available for reconstitution should be defined by ownership, locale, commitment to the economy, nationality of researchers, or what have you—the divergence between those indicators of national identity being increasingly pronounced—and to determine whether, once defined, such units will actually exist and be available for reconstitution when needed.
144. Allott considers several provisions of the maritime Exclusive Economic Zone to exhibit “delegated powers,” under which coastal states act “not only in the mystical composite personage of the international legislator but also in performing the function of the executive branch of their own self-government.” See Allott, Philip, “Power Sharing in the Law of the Sea,” American Journal of International Law 77 (01 1983), p. 24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
145. On the epistemic import of the Antarctic ozone hole, see Litfin, Karen Therese, “Power and Knowledge in International Environmental Politics: The Case of Stratospheric Ozone Depletion,” Ph.D. diss., Department of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles, 1992.Google Scholar
147. Based on personal interviews at NATO headquarters, Brussels, May 1992. Japan has undertaken a slow but systematic process of its own to normalize its security relations by means of multilateralization: through the postministeral conferences of the Association of South East Nations, for example, as well as through the recent legistation permitting Japan to participate in United Nations peacekeeping forces (based on personal interviews at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo, May 1992).