Home > Uncategorized > Book Summary: Stuart Elden: Terror and Territory

Book Summary: Stuart Elden: Terror and Territory

Etymological connection between territory and terror, fear, land on which the lord terrorizes, or where fear is prevalent.

Territarium: A place where people are frightened off.

Space of sate is space of violence.

To control territory is to exercise violence, to challenge territory is also the exercise of violence.


(25) 9/11 was a war in which in order to safeguard US sovereignty and territory all others were put under threat.


(35) Though the war is clearly territorial and has territorial roots and complaints on the Arab side, these are all framed in ways to hide their territorialism bu Bush and make it universal. Opportunity to strike, reading of Al Qaeda as territorial.

Land of Muslims must be defended community of muslims has 3 key spatial formations: The Caliphate, the network, the base.

(48) Jihad not moving from center to periphery but reverse, from periphery of Muslim land to center.


Failed states have failed in maintaining control over their territory and become a threat to the international system.

(67) US needs strong states to protect its interests. State system as power containers, weak ones leak, failed ones flood over and affect all other states.

(in any large vision trying to label the world there will be errors, but this books seems particularly bad at understanding local conditions and makes a number of mistakes that render his framework with respect to terrorism unpalatable.)

(80) Musharraf really dodged a bullet in Pakistan, could have easily become part of the war, especially since it had nuclear weapons. (perhaps it was not invaded because it did not have nuclear weapons?)

(103) Rebuilding somalia as a state is counterproductive to anti-terrorism since it will create targets to attack.

Muslim courts council in sumalia were capable and strong in center of country, US bombed the shit out of them and replaced them with an unpopular government. Likewise lebanon was destabilized so US doesn’t always act to gaurantee strong state.

(107) Aim was a bigger picture of new geography.

(140) States territory is and has been contested along with right to violence by other powers.

(142) UN froze boundaries, if boundaries are traced back enough there will always be fund to be taken by occupation.

By making territorial acquisition illegal states have had to illegally acquire territory for violence outside of peace.

Self determination doesn’t apply to non-colonized subject, once state is independent self-determination is subordinated.

(147) Protect borders wherever they are rather than recognize them as artificial, excessively so in some places, clinging to myth of border.

(150) Threat to borders is threat to system.


Final Class notes:

State is produced not naturally given.

It is called international relations because it studies relations between people and how lives are interconnected.

Different legacy of post colonialism and different struggles, so Latim American post-colonial studies have linkages all the way back to De las Casas through to marxism and Liberation theology.

Modern cosmopolitanism is about Europe wanting the rest of the world to change without changing itself. A  Himalayan kid is amercianized but an English kid drinking tea in a singapore bungalow is cosmopolitan.

Globalization and uncovering of the state and sovereignty is good for some and worse for others. There are winners and losers. It is coming in a moment when it can be used fro some actors against others. For US against Iran. So while saying that sovereignty and state is produced is one thing and using it is something else and to which ends?

Sovereignty should not stop us! Europeans can interfere in other countries but not vice versa.

Margareth Thatcher disbanded 300 years  old London council to kick off neoliberalism. Birth of Neoliberalism was anti-democratic. The same is happening in Greece, the financial mandate is a dictatorship but it is called necessary. If anyone did it in Africa it would be called dictatorial.

Is there space between determinancy and agency? Changes in ways we look at the world affects the outcome. So Utopian idea we have affects the outcome of behavior and actions.

Ideas do affect outcomes, communism changes outcomes of revolutions and social movements, but ultimately came up against limits of inherited structure and went to Stalinism. So there is room for agency but not ultimate. (Bandit Queen)

States privatize what they are not allowed to get involved in, torture, disposing of waste to 3rd world etc…

Chilean writer, violence from the skies, tuesday.

Failure of GATT in 1973 beginning of decline of US soft power.

A bully will forget what he did, but the bullied will remember forever. Same with US policy abroad.

The point of discourse analysis is to look at what people say and what models must exist to allow that speech, but also not to look at reality overcome problem of objectivity.

Germany wants guest workers, they got people. Commodification of people into workers is ignoring reality.

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