The concept of jurisdiction is a relatively undertheorized category of international law. Mainstream international law scholarship advances an ahistorical and asocial account of the rules of jurisdiction in international law. The present article contends that any serious understanding of the categories and rules of jurisdiction, in particular that of extraterritorial jurisdiction, calls for deep appreciation of the evolving material structures over time. It argues that the key factors that have influenced the evolution and development of the doctrine, rules, and practices of jurisdiction are the emergence of the modern state, capitalism, and imperialism. In order to appreciate this contention there is a need to undertake on the one hand a genealogical analysis of modern state and capitalism and on the other hand problematize the categories ‘territory’ and ‘extraterritorial’. The internal relationship between capitalism and imperialism has meant that, despite the territorial organization of the international system, a process of harmonization of legal rules has taken place across geographical spaces in both colonial and postcolonial eras. The outcome is a critical loss of policy and legal space for nations of the Global South. In the colonial era the outcome was achieved through legislation in the instance of colonized nations and through capitulation regimes in the case of semi-colonies. The strategy of advanced capitalist states in the postcolonial era for achieving harmonization of laws has been multi-layered and multi-dimensional. The article concludes by touching on two models of reform of the rules and practices of jurisdiction viz., liberal and subaltern internationalism.