Skip to main content Accessibility help

Territoriality and beyond: problematizing modernity in international relations

  • John Gerard Ruggie


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.



Hide All

1. White, Theodore H., In Seach of History: A Personal Adventure (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), p. 224.

2. For a specification of the ontological and epistemological differences among incremental, conjunctural, and secular or epochal time frames, see Ruggie, John Gerard, “Social Time and International Policy,” in Karns, Margaret P., ed., Persistent Patterns and Emergent Structures in a Waning Century (New York: Praeger, 1986), pp. 211–36. Within that typology, the “normal politics” studied by much of the international relations field falls into the incremental category, the cold war exemplifies the conjunctural, and the modern system of states the epochal time frames.

3. Balibar, Etienne, “Es Gibt Keinen Staat in Europa: Racism and Politics in Europe Today,” New Left Review 186 (03/04 1991), p. 16, emphasis original.

4. Many-spired Europe,” The Economist, 18 05 1991, p. 16. Some twenty years ago, I suggested that integration theory move from the model of a “tree” (in graph-theoretic terms) to depict the institutional end-point of the integration process to one of a semi-lattice—the definition of which sounds very much like a formal representation of The Economist's European Mont Saint Michel. See John Gerard Ruggie, “The Structure of International Organization: Contingency, Complexity, and Postmodern Form,” Peace Research Society (International) Papers, no. 18, 1972.

5. Inner Space,” The Economist, 18 05 1991. Delors is cited in Riding, Alan, “Europeans in Accord to Create Vastly Extended Trading Bloc,” New York Times, 23 10 1991, p. A1.

6. See Waltz, Kenneth, Theory of International Politics (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1979).

7. See, for example, Garrett, Geoffrey, “International Cooperation and Institutional Choice: The European Community's Internal Market,” International Organization 46 (Spring 1992), pp. 531–60.

8. See Haas, Ernst B., The Obsolescence of Regional Integration Theory, Research Mongraph no. 25 (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California, 1976).

9. For a description of global factories, see Grunwald, Joseph and Flamm, Kenneth, The Global Factory: Foreign Assembly in International Trade (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1985).

10. Lohr, Steve, “The Growth of the ‘Global Office’,” New York Times, 18 10 1988. For example, Citibank does some of its financial data processing in Jamaica; American Airlines processes ticket stubs in Barbados and the Dominican Republic; and New York Life processes claims and McGraw-Hill, magazine subscription renewals, in Ireland.

11. The term is drawn from Pollack: “Just as they once moved manufacturing plants overseas, American companies are now spreading their research and product development around the world, helping to turn the creation of technology into an activity that transcends national borders.” See Pollack, Andrew, “Technology Without Borders Raises Big Questions for U.S.,” New York Times, 1 01 1992, p. A1.

12. Spero, Joan E., “Guiding Global Finance,” Foreign Policy 73 (Winter 19881989), pp. 114–34.

13. See Reich, Robert B., The Work of Nations (New York: Knopf, 1991).

14. Some 40 percent of U.S. trade is of the intrafirm variety, a ratio that increases to close to two-thirds if more relaxed definitions of “related party” are used. Moreover, intrafirm trade has been growing more rapidly than the standard stuff, and it is less sensitive to such macroeconomic factors as exchange rates. For evidence, see Little, Jane Sneddon, “Intra-firm Trade: An Update,” New England Economic Review (05/06 1987), pp. 4651; and the earlier but still useful study by Helleiner, Gerald C., Intra-firm Trade and the Developing Countries (London: Macmillan, 1981).

15. International trade amounts to some $2.5 to $3 trillion per year; international capital markets turn over at least $75 trillion, and foreign exchange transactions now amount to approximately $1 trillion per day.

16. Definitions are so bad that the balance of world services imports and exports routinely is off by as much as $100 billion per annum—a margin of error equivalent to fully one-fifth of all traded services; see Shelp, Ronald K., “Trade in Services,” Foreign Policy 65 (Winter 19861987). Bhagwati suggests several creative definitional distinctions but ends up recommending that the term “trade in services” be abandoned in favor of “international service transactions”; see Bhagwati, Jagdish, “Trade in Services and the Multilateral Trade Negotiations,” The World Bank Economic Review, vol. 1, no. 1, 1987. See also Riddle, Dorothy I., Service-Led Growth (New York: Praeger, 1986); Giarini, Orio, ed., The Emerging Service Economy (London: Pergamon Press, 1987); Berg, Terrence G., “Trade in Services,” Harvard International LawJoumal 28 (Winter 1987); and Kakabadse, Mario A., International Trade in Services (London: Croom Helm for the Atlantic Institute for International Affairs, 1987).

17. A Gatt for Services,” The Economist, 12 10 1985, p. 20. See also Netting the Future: A Survey of Telecommunications,” The Economist, 19 03 1990; and A Question of Definition: A Survey of International Banking,” The Economist, 7 04 1990.

18. At the time of this writing, indications are that the Uruguay Round will bring into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) framework that portion of international services which fits the conventional understanding of international trade. However, that portion is relatively small compared with the whole, and numerous highly disputatious issues lurk beyond the conventional framework. See GATT Brief: Centre Stage for Services?The Economist, 5 05 1990, pp. 8889; and GATT and Services: Second Best,” The Economist, 3 08 1991.

19. Thomson, Janice E. and Krasner, Stephen D., “Global Transactions and the Consolidation of Sovereignty,” in Czempiel, Ernst-Otto and Rosenau, James N., eds., Global Changes and Theoretical Challenges (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1989), p. 198. See also Stephen Krasner, D., “Global Communications and National Power: Life on the Pareto Frontier,” World Politics 43 (04 1991), pp. 336–66.

20. See Kapstein, Ethan B., “We are US: The Myth of the Multinational,” The National Interest 26 (Winter 1991/1992), pp. 5562. The full exposition of Reich's argument is in The Work of Nations, the final chapter of which is entitled “Who is ‘US’?”

21. Kapstein, , “We are US,” pp. 56 and 61.

22. See Benedick, Richard Elliot, Ozone Diplomacy (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991); Caldwell, Lynton Keith, International Environmental Policy (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1984); Young, Oran R., International Cooperation: Building Regimes for Natural Resources and the Environment (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989); and Haas, Peter, Saving the Mediterranean (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990).

23. On the field's alleged “renaissance,” see Walt, Stephen M., “The Renaissance of Security Studies,” International Studies Quarterly 35 (06 1991), pp. 211–39. For Herz's, John view, see his articles “Rise and Demise of the Territorial States,” World Politics 9 (07 1957), pp. 473–93, and The Territorial State Revisited—Reflections on the Future of the Nation-State,” Polity 1 (Fall 1968), pp. 1134, in which he elaborated and modified some of his earlier ideas. The recent interest in the “obsolescence” of war among democracies was not initiated by international security specialists-see, for example, Mueller, John, Retreat from Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War (New York: Basic Books, 1989) —though it has now attracted serious attention from some. For examples see Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Robert W. Jackman, and Randolph M. Siverson, eds., Democracy and Foreign Policy: Community and Constraint, special issue, Journal of Conflict Resolution 35 (06 1991). A partial exception to my characterization of the security studies literature is Robert Jarvis, The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989). On the historical relation between military changes and political transformation, see McNeill, William H., The Pursuit of Power (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982); and Tilly, Charles, Coercion, Capital, and European States AD 990–1990 (Cambridge, Mass.: Basil Blackwell, 1990).

24. One recent attempt to correct this shortcoming, to which I return below, is Rosenau, James N., Turbulence in World Politics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990).

25. Geertz, Clifford, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), p. 13.

26. The term is due to Wellmer, Albrecht, “On the Dialectic of Modernism and Postmodernism,” Praxis International 4 (01 1985), p. 337.

27. Hassan, Ihab, The Postmodern Turn (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1987), especially chap. 4, which presents a widely used schema differentiating modern from postmodern aesthetic practices.

28. Attempts to relate the postmodern reading of texts to issues in international relations may be found in Derian, James Der and Shapiro, Michael J., eds., International/Intenextual Relations (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington/Heath, 1989). For a sympathetic yet critical review of this literature, see Rosenau, Pauline, “Once Again into the Fray: International Relations Confronts the Humanities,” Millenium 19 (Spring 1990), pp. 83110.

29. Huyssen, Andreas, “Mapping the Postmodern,” New German Critique 33 (Fall 1984), p. 8.

30. Habermas, Jürgen, “Modernity and Postmodernity,” New German Critique 22 (Winter 1981), p. 9.

31. These are Habermas's terms; see ibid.

32. Huyssen, “Mapping the Postmodern,” p. 31.

33. Lyotard, Jean-Francois, The Postmodem Condition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), pp. 8182.

34. See Huyssen, , “Mapping the Postmodern”; and Martin Jay, “Habermas and Modernism,” in Berstein, Richard J., ed., Habermas and Modernity (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985), pp. 125–39.

35. See Lehman, David, Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man (New York: Poseidon Press, 1991).

36. See Anderson, M.S., Europe in the Eighteenth Century, 1713–1783 (London: Longmans, 1963).

37. Wight, Martin, “The Balance of Power and International Order,” in James, Alan, ed., The Bases of International Order (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 98.

38. Hinsley, F. H., Power and the Pursuit of Peace (London: Cambridge University Press, 1963), chaps. 2 and 4.

39. In a certain sense, James Rosenau's recent book touches on this cultural category of the postmodernist debate. The major driving force of international transformation today, Rosenau contends, consists of new sensibilities and capacities of individuals: “with their analytical skills enlarged and their orientations toward authority more self-conscious, today's persons-in-the street are no longer as uninvolved, ignorant, and manipulable with respect to world affairs as were their forebears. … [T]he enlargements of the capacities of citizens is the primary prerequisite for global turbulence.” See Rosenau, , Turbulence in World Politics, pp. 13 and 15.

40. See Jameson, Frederic, “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” New Left Review 146 (07/08 1984), pp. 5392; and Marxism and Postmodernism,” New Left Review 176 (07/08 1989), pp. 3145.

41. The quotations are from Jameson, “Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” pp. 80 and 81.

42. The most comprehensive work is Harvey, David, The Condition of Postmoderniry (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989). For a detailed empirical study of the relationship between global capital and the reconfiguration of urban spaces, see Castells, Manuel, The Informational City (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989). Marxist theorists of postmodernity encounter an inherent contradiction, to borrow their term, by the very nature of the enterprise. One of the features of postmodernity on which virtually all other schools of thought agree is that it invalidates the possibility of producing metanarratives, or metarécits, more fashionably—that “totalizing” and “logocentric” practice of modernity on which Lyotard urges us to wage war. Of course, few narratives are more “meta” than Marxism. Jameson's somewhat feeble response, in “Marxism and Postmodernism,” is that a system that produces fragments is still a system.

43. Harvey, , The Condition of Postmoderniry, p. 201.

44. ibid.

45. Williams, Raymond, “When was Modernism?New Left Review 175 (05/06 1989), pp. 4852.

46. Koselleck, Reinhart, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985), p. 243.

47. Cited in Wight, Martin, Systems of States (Leicester, England: Leicester University Press, 1977), p. 111.

48. Giddens, Anthony, A Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism, vol. 1 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), p. 45.

49. See, for instance, Tilly, Charles, Big Structures, Large Processes, Huge Comparisons (New York: Russell Sage, 1985).

50. Locke, John, “On Property,” in the second of the Two Treatises of Government, sec. 2.25, Cook, Thomas I., ed. (New York: Hafner, 1947), p. 134. Luhman has developed a nonteleological formulation of differentiation that I have found useful in which he distinguishes among segmentation, functional differentiation, and stratification, with segmentation having an obvious temporal priority. See Luhman, Niklas, The Differentiation of Society, trans. Holmes, Stephen and Larmore, Charles (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982). I use the term here in the sense of segmentation.

51. The classic statement of the traditional anthropological view is found in Morgan, Lewis Henry, Ancient Society, first published in 1877; a reprinted edition was edited by Leacock, Eleanor (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1963). For a contemporary discussion, see Haas, Jonathan, The Evolution of the Prehistoric State (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982).

52. See Owen Lattimore's works Inner Asian Frontiers of China (London: Oxford University Press, 1940) and Studies in Frontier History (London: Oxford University Press, 1962).

53. Lattimore, , Studies in Frontier History, p. 535.

54. Lattimore, , Inner Asian Frontiers of China, p. 66.

55. Strayer, Joseph R. and Munro, Dana C., The Middle Ages (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1959), p. 115. See also Strayer, Joseph R., On the Medieval Origins of the Modem State (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1970), passim.

56. The quotations are from Anderson, Perry, Lineages of the Absolutist State (London: New Left Books, 1974), pp. 37 and 3738, respectively.

57. I have explored these differences at greater length in Ruggie, John Gerard, “Continuity and Transformation in the World Polity: Toward a Neorealist Synthesis,” World Politics 35 (01 1983), pp. 261–85. Markus Fischer has recently claimed that I and other theorists who find fault with neorealism's inability to capture the phenomenon of transformation “imply” or “would expect” medieval life to have been more harmonious and less conflictual than modern international relations. Certainly in my case the claim is entirely fictitious, backed only by Fischer citing a sentence in my article that had nothing to do with this point and linking it to what he “would expect” me to have said. See Fischer, Markus, “Feudal Europe, 800–1300: Communal Discourse and Conflictual Practices,” International Organization 46 (Spring 1992), pp. 427–66; the questionable reference is cited in his footnote 12.

58. According to Edouard Perroy, as paraphrased by Wallerstein, this was “the ‘fundamental change’ in the political structure of Europe.” See Wallerstein, Immanuel, The Modem World System, vol. 1 (New York: Academic Press, 1974), p. 32. An extended discussion of the difference between borders and frontier zones may be found in Lattimore, Studies in Frontier History. See also Kratochwil, Friedrich, “Of Systems, Boundaries and Territoriality,” World Politics 34 (10 1986), pp. 2752.

59. Anderson, , Lineages of the Absolutist State, p.32.

60. Duby, Georges, The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined, trans. Goldhammer, Arthur (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 286.

61. Mattingly, Garrett, Renaissance Diplomacy (Baltimore, Md.: Penguin Books, 1964), p. 41 and passim.

62. Meinecke, Friedrich, Machiavellism, trans. Scott, Douglas (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1957). The term is attributed to Meinecke by Scott in his introduction to the book, which was first published in 1924.

63. The term “heteronomous” refers to systems wherein the parts are subject to different biological laws or modes of growth and “homonomous” to systems wherein they are subject to the same laws or modes of growth; see The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed. s.v. “heteronomous” and “homonomous.” In the original, biological sense of the terms, the fingers on a hand would exhibit homonomous growth—for a current international relations meaning, read “all states are functionally alike”—and the heart and hands of the same body heteronomous growth—read “all states are functionally different.”

64. According to Perry Anderson, “the age in which ‘Absolutist’ public authority was imposed was also simultaneously the age in which ‘absolute’ private property was progressively consolidated”; see Anderson, , Lineages of the Absolutist State, p. 429. Eric Jones reaches a similar conclusion via a different route: “Productive activities that had been subject to collective controls were becoming individualized. This is a staple of the textbooks. But that Europe moved from the guilds and the common fields toward laissez faire is only half the story. The missing half is that just when production was becoming fully privatised, services were becoming more of a collective concern, or where they were already communal, now the government was being involved.” See Jones, E. L., The European Miracle: Environments, Economics, and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 147. Jones is referring to the provision of such services as internal pacification, internal colonization of uncultivated lands, disaster management, and the like. The gradual differentiation between internal and external, as seen through the lens of changing norms and practices of diplomatic representation, is portrayed brilliantly by Mattingly in Renaissance Diplomacy.

65. Elias, Norbert, Power and Civility (New York: Pantheon, 1983), p. 202.

66. Contamine, Philippe, War in the Middle Ages, trans. Jones, Michael (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1984), p. 169.

67. For a sophisticated survey, see Sack, Robert David, Human Territoriality: Its Theory and History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

68. Waltz, inexplicably, views the differentiation of a collectivity into its constituent units to be an attribute of the units rather than of the collectivity. His original argument is in Theory of International Politics, chap. 5; and a defense of his position can be found in Waltz, Kenneth, “Reflections on Theory of International Politics: A Response to My Critics,” in Keohane, Robert O., ed., Neorealism and Its Critics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986).

69. The exemplar of this school, of course, is Fernand Braudel; his general approach is discussed in Braudel, , On History, trans. Matthews, Sarah (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980).

70. Herlihy, David, “Ecological Conditions and Demographic Change,” in De Molen, Richard L., ed., One Thousand Years: Western Europe in the Middle Ages (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974), p. 13. See also Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's classic study, Times of Feast, Times of Famine: A History of Climate Since the Year 1000, trans. Bray, Barbara (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971).

71. Jones, , The European Miracle, chap. 4.

72. According to Herlihy, even in the most densely populated areas, northern Italy and Flanders, three out of four people continued to live in the countryside; elsewhere this proportion was roughly nine out of ten. See Herlihy, “Ecological Conditions and Demographic Change,” p. 30. For a more elaborate discussion of the structures and functions of towns in premodern Europe, see Hohenberg, Paul M. and Lees, Lynn Hollen, The Making of Urban Europe, 1000–1950 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), chaps. 13.

73. Jones, , The European Miracle, p. 90.

74. See ibid., chap. 5; Herlihy, “Ecological Conditions and Demographic Change”; and Elias, Power and Civility. Elias explores the importance of monetization not only for economic but also for political development.

75. McNeill, , The Pursuit of Power, chap. 3.

76. See ibid.; Elias, Power and Civility; and Jones, , The European Miracle, chap. 7.

77. Surely the most readable account of this period is Tuchman, Barbara, A Distant Mirror. The Calamitous 14th Century (New York: Ballantine, 1978). For a standard history, see Hays, Denys, Europe in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, 2d ed. (London: Longman, 1989).

78. For the purposes of the present discussion, the pathbreaking work is the brief book by North, Douglass C. and Thomas, Robert Paul, The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973).

79. See Jones, , The European Miracle, chap. 7. Perhaps the drollest illustration cited by Jones, but nonetheless a significant one, actually comes from a later century, when the Austrian Hapsburgs built a cordon sanitaire some 1,000 miles long, promising to shut out the plague that persisted in the Ottoman empire. Their feat had little epidemiological effect, but it called forth considerable administrative effort and social mobilization and contributed, thereby, to statebuilding. Douglass North and his colleagues have produced a fascinating formulation of the process whereby innovations in contracts were created and enforced; see Milgrom, Paul R., North, Douglass C., and Weingast, Barry R., “The Role of Institutions in the Revival of Trade: The Law Merchant, Private Judges, and the Champagne Fairs,” Economics and Politics 2 (03 1990), pp. 123.

80. Verlinden, O., “Markets and Fairs,” Cambridge Economic History of Europe, vol. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963), p. 127. Verlinden also points out another possible analogue to the present situation, namely that “from the middle of the thirteenth century onwards, money-changing [in the fairs] begins to take precedence over trade” (see p. 133). Also see Bautier, Robert-Henri, The Economic Development of Medieval Europe, trans. Karolyi, Heather (London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), chap. 4.

81. Becker, Marvin B., Medieval Italy: Constraints and Creativity (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981), p. 15. See also the excellent review article of Becker's book by Coleman, Janet, “The Civic Culture of Contracts and Credit,” Comparative Study of Society and History 28 (10 1986), pp. 778–84.

82. The original quotation is “Stadtluft macht frei,” and is found in Fritz Rorig, The Medieval Town (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), p. 27. See also Goff, Jacques Le, “The Town as an Agent of Civilization,” in Cipolla, Carlo M., ed. The Middle Ages (London: Harvester Press, 1976).

83. Spruyt, Hendrik, “The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change,” Ph.D. diss., Department of Political Science, University of California, San Diego, 1991.

84. North, and Thomas, , The Rise of the Western World, p. 17.

85. See ibid.; and Jones, The European Miracle.

86. See McNeill, The Pursuit of Power.

87. For a more elaborate summary of prevailing patterns of state forms, see Tilly, Charles, “Reflections on the History of European State-making,” in Tilly, Charles, ed., The Formation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton, N.J.: Prinston University Press, 1975), pp. 383. Tilly points out a methodological problem that the “new economic historians” gloss over: there are many more failures than successes in the history of European state building. “The disproportionate distribution of success and failure puts us in the unpleasant situation of dealing with an experience in which most of the cases are negative, while only the positive cases are well-documented” (p. 39). Tilly explores a greater variety of state-building experiences in his most recent work, Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990–1990. Spruyt's methodological critique is even more damning, however. He points out that because successor forms to the medieval system of rule other than territorial states have been systematically excluded from consideration, there is no fundamental variation in units on the dependent-variable side in theories of state building. See Spruyt, “The Soverign State and its Competitors.”

88. Walzer, Michael, “On the Role of Symbolism in Political Thought,” Political Science Quarterly 82 (06 1967), p. 194.

89. With due apologies, I adapt the latter term from Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things (New York: Random House, 1970).

90. See, for example, Gross, Leo, “The Peace of Westphalia, 1648–1948,” in Falk, Richard A. and Hanrieder, Wolfram, eds., International Law and Organization (Philadelphia, Penn.: Lippincott, 1968); and Hinsley, F. H., “The Concept of Sovereignty and the Relations between States,” Journal of International Affairs, vol. 21, no. 2, 1967, pp. 242–52.

91. Cited by Gross, “The Peace of Westphalia,” pp. 56–57.

92. Berki writes that “‘private’ … refers not so much to the nature of the entity that owns, but to the fact that it is an entity, a unit whose ownership of nature … signifies the exclusion of others from this ownership.” See Berki, R. N., “On Marxian Thought and the Problem of International Relations,” World Politics 24 (10 1971), pp. 80105. On the relationship between private property and sovereignty, see Ruggie, “Continuity and Transformation in the World Polity.”

93. See Walzer, , “On the Role of Symbolism in Political Thought”; Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision (Boston: Little, Brown, 1960); Macpherson, C. B., The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962); and Pocock, J. G. A., The Machiavellian Moment (Princeton, N.J.; Princeton University Press, 1975).

94. On the use of vernacular, see Febvre, Lucien and Martin, Henri-Jean, The Coming of the Book, trans. Gerard, David, and Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey and Wootton, David, eds. (London: Verso, 1984), especially chapter 8, which contains interesting statistics on books in print by subject and language. On the I-form of speech, see Borkenau, Franz, End and Beginning: On the Generations of Cultures and the Origins of the West, Lowenthal, Richard, ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981).

95. Changing sensibilities are illustrated and analyzed at length by Elias, Norbert, The Civilizing Process (New York: Urizen Books, 1978). 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); and Duby, Georges, ed., A History of Private Life, vol. 2, Revelations of the Medieval World, trans. Goldhammer, Arthur (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 1988). 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. 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.

96. Edgerton, Samuel Y. Jr., The Renaissance Rediscovery of Linear Perspective (New York: Basic Books, 1975), p. 9.

97. White, John, The Binh and Rebirth of Pictorial Space (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1987), p. 103.

98. Osborne, Harold, Oxford Companion to An (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 840, emphasis added.

99. Edgerton, , The Renaissance Rediscovery of Linear Perspective, p. 158.

100. Marshall McLuhan made several offhand remarks in The Gutenberg Galaxy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962) 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).

101. Mattingly, , Renaissance Diplomacy, p. 195.

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). 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). 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.

105. ibid., p. 73.

106. See Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment; and Guenee, Bernard, States and Rulers in Later Medieval Europe, trans. Vale, Juliet (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985).

107. Tilly, “Reflections on the History of European State-making,” p. 22.

108. Ashley, Richard K., “The Poverty of Neorealism,” International Organization 38 (Spring 1984), especially pp. 259 and 272–73.

109. Wight, , Systems of States, p. 135.

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. I am here attempting to capture and give expression to these other dimensions.

111. Kosellek, , Futures Past, p. 8.

112. ibid.

113. See Anderson, , Europe in the Eighteenth Century, 17131783; and Kaiser, Politics and War.

114. Dehio, Ludwig, The Precarious Balance (New York: Knopf, 1962). 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).

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. 2347. On the emergence of national sovereignty, see Arnold, Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983).

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.

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).

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).

119. ibid., p. 244. See also Bozeman, Adda B., Politics and Culture in International History (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1960), pp. 479–80.

120. Bozeman, , Politics and Culture in International History, pp. 482–83.

121. I adapt this notion from the discussion of unbundling sovereign rights in Kratochwil, “Of Systems, Boundaries and Territoriality.”

122. Mattingly, , Renaissance Diplomacy, pp. 105–6.

123. Finucane, Ronald C., Soldiers of the Faith (New York: St. Martin's, 1983).

124. Strayer, , On the Medieval Origins of the Modem State, p. 22.

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. 803, 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.

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.

129. See Eldredge, Niles and Tattersall, Ian, The Myths of Human Evolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982). 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). 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. 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. 223–46; and Sovereignty: An Institutional Perspective,” Comparative Political Studies 21 (04 1988), pp. 6694.

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).

132. See Mackinder, H. J., “The Geographical Pivot of History,” Geographical Journal 23 (04 1904).

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.

135. Skinner, Quentin, The Return of Grand Theory in the Human Sciences (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 12.

136. For a superb discussion of these issues, see Benhabib, Seyla, “Epistemologies of Postmodernism: A Rejoinder to Jean-Francois Lyotard,” New German Critique 33 (Fall 1984), pp. 103–26.

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. 9, 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.

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. 335–70; Dessler, David, “What's at Stake in the Agent-Structure Debate?International Organization 43 (Summer 1989), pp. 441–73; Ruggie, John Gerard, “International Structure and International Transformation: Space, Time, and Method,” in Czempiel and Rosenau, Global Changes and Theoretical Challenges, pp. 2135; 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. 391425.

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.

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.

146. Ruggie, John Gerard, “Multilateralism: The Anatomy of an Institution,” International Organization 46 (Summer 1992), pp. 561–98. Waltz distinguishes between internal and external balancing mechanisms in Theory of International Politics.

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).

148. The classic study is Deutsch, Karl al., Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1957).

Territoriality and beyond: problematizing modernity in international relations

  • John Gerard Ruggie


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed