Territoriality and Sovereign Advantage: Public Lands, Treaty Rights, and the Contentious Politics of the American West

Séan Patrick Eudaily, Steve Smith

Abstract


This paper examines the territorial basis of claims to sovereignty by various  actors in the contemporary era. These claims shift the question of sovereignty  away from state institutions and toward the problem of territory. We argue for a
genealogical approach to territory that considers how and under what  circumstances different forms of territoriality have emerged and been used to continually modify sovereign claims-making. A genealogical approach then focuses our attention on the emergence of geopolitical forces, as well as their quantity and quality, beyond the edifice of the territorial, sovereign state. Thus, we argue for a reversal of the classic formulation wherein a sovereign controls  territory, instead understanding territory as a starting point from which an individual or a group may advantageously engage in the practices of  sovereignty. Explaining the (re)arrangement of the elements of sovereignty and territory provides a fruitful opportunity to engage the study of peoples’ movements, states, and international institutions as they vie to create positions of sovereign advantage.


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