Stuart Elden

Stuart Elden
The University of Warwick · Department of Politics & International Studies

BSc, PhD, DLitt

About

162
Publications
129,172
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5,681
Citations
Citations since 2016
23 Research Items
3274 Citations
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Introduction
Stuart Elden currently works at the Department of Politics & International Studies , The University of Warwick. He does research in Political Geography, Political Theory and Social and Political Philosophy. His current project is on Foucault, completing the fourth and final volume of an intellectual history of his entire career. He is also one of the main English-language editors of Henri Lefebvre's writings, and retains an interest in the concept and practice of territory.
Additional affiliations
September 2002 - August 2013
Durham University
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (162)
Article
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This response outlines the intention of thinking critically about terrain as a way to think about the political materiality of territory. It responds to the interlocutors particularly around the themes of place, geology, depth, Eurocentrism, and the relation between human and physical geography.
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In this extended review essay we discuss the lectures on sexuality which Foucault delivered in the 1960s, published in a single volume in 2018. The first part of the volume comprises five lectures given at the University of Clermont-Ferrand in 1964 to psychology students. The second part is Foucault’s course ‘The Discourse of Sexuality’, given at t...
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Foucault’s Introduction to a translation of Ludwig Binswanger’s essay ‘Dream and Existence’ was published in late 1954. The translation was credited to Jacqueline Verdeaux, with Foucault acknowledged for the notes. Yet Verdeaux herself indicates the intensely collaborative nature of their working process and the translation. In 1958, Victor von Wei...
Article
This article is based on the 2019 Dialogues in Human Geography plenary lecture at the Royal Geographical Society. It has four parts. The first discusses my work on territory in relation to recent work by geographers and others on the vertical, the volumetric, the voluminous, and the milieu as ways of thinking space in three-dimensions, of a fluid a...
Conference Paper
An audio recording is available here - https://progressivegeographies.com/2019/08/29/terrain-politics-history-dialogues-lecture-at-the-rgs-ibg-conference/ - The final text will be published by Dialogues in Human Geography, along with some responses - This lecture will attempt to do two things. First, it will continue work using the concept of te...
Article
“Territory” and “territoriality” are widely used in urban research, but often in a general, nonspecific sense that effectively relies on the idea that a territory is a “bounded space,” or the understanding that territory is the outcome of territoriality. This entry disentangles these uses, looking at economic, political, legal, and strategic senses...
Book
Shakespeare was an astute observer of contemporary life, culture, and politics. The emerging practice of territory as a political concept and technology did not elude his attention. In Shakespearean Territories, Stuart Elden reveals just how much Shakespeare’s unique historical position and political understanding can teach us about territory. Shak...
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In February 2018 the fourth volume of Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality was finally published. Les aveux de la chair [Confessions of the Flesh] was edited by Frédéric Gros, and appeared in the same Gallimard series as Volumes 1, 2 and 3. The book deals with the early Christian Church Fathers of the second to fifth centuries. This essay reviews...
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This paper argues that territory is more than a simple concept, and that William Shakespeare is a valuable guide to understanding its complexities. Shakespeare’s plays explore many aspects of geography, politics and territory. They include ideas about the division of kingdoms in King Lear, the struggle over its control in Macbeth and many of the En...
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This lecture sketches the contours of a political–legal theory of terrain. It argues that terrain is a useful concept to think the materiality of territory. Terrain is where the geopolitical and the geophysical meet, and it is therefore a helpful concept to make political–legal understandings of territory better account for the complexities of the...
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Foucault only refers to Shakespeare in a few places in his work. He is intrigued by the figures of madness that appear in King Lear, Hamlet, and Macbeth. He occasionally notes the overthrow of one monarch by another, such as in Richard II or Richard III, arguing that “a part of Shakespeare's historical drama really is the drama of the coup d’État.”...
Chapter
This chapter develops a parallel project to Foucault’s predominant interest in biopolitics, in relation to geopolitics. It suggests that the latter can be understood in a related way, and drawing on Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Elizabeth Grosz and others, suggests a threefold relation between geopower, geopolitics and geometrics. The point is no...
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This article is a transcript of a conversation between Michel Foucault and Jonathan Simon in San Francisco in October 1983. It has never previously been published and is transcribed on the basis of a tape recording made at the time. Foucault and Simon begin with a discussion of Foucault’s 1977 lecture ‘About the Concept of the “Dangerous Individual...
Chapter
This chapter examines the way in which mathematics and politics intertwined in National Socialist Germany, particularly in relation to the period between 1933 and 1939. As Heidegger’s critical writings on the regime showed, one of the particular issues was the way in which what he calls machination and later technology depended upon a particular no...
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This article analyses Foucault’s 1972–3 lecture course, La société punitive. While the course can certainly be seen as an initial draft of themes for the 1975 book Surveiller et punir (Discipline and Punish), there are some important differences. The reading here focuses on different modes of punishment; the civil war and the social enemy; the comp...
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A review forum of Stuart Elden's (2013) The Birth of Territory book. Featuring an introduction by Stephen Legg, commenataries by Mike Heffernan (University of Nottingham), Briony McDonagh (University of Hull), Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (George Washington University), Saskia Sassen (Columbia University), and a response by Stuart Elden (University of Warw...
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This introduction to the translation of Henri Lefebvre's 1956 essay “The theory of ground rent and rural Sociology” moves through three stages. First, it suggests that Anglophone appropriations of Lefebvre have tended to focus too much on his urban writings, at the expense of understanding his early work on rural sociology, and failing to recognise...
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The April 2014 kidnapping of the schoolgirls at Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, has meant that Boko Haram is now widely discussed by Western governments and in Western media. Yet within Nigeria the group has been well known for several years. Boko Haram's activities, or actions attributed to the group, have developed in a range of ways, many contrad...
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This response to John Agnew agrees that the history of ideas is never enough for the project of understanding the world but argues that it is a crucial part of that work. The commentary begins by contesting the claim that there is a turn towards this perspective in geography and suggests that much more needs to be done. I engage with Agnew’s articl...
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This article discusses the way that the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716) made a number of significant contributions to geography. In outlining his contributions as a geologist, palaeontologist, biologist, historian, political theorist and geopolitician, it challenges the straightforward way he is read in geography....
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Shakespeare’s King Lear begins with a division of Britain between the King’s daughters. Lear says he wishes to divest himself of “interest of territory, cares of state.” What follows is a remarkable play about the politics of space, not simply in terms of Lear’s story but also in terms of the subplot concerning the legitimate and illegitimate sons...
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We all-too-often think of the spaces of geography as areas, not volumes. Territories are bordered, divided and demarcated, but not understood in terms of height and depth. ‘Secure the area’ is a common expression for the military and police, but what happens if another dimension is taken into account and we think what it means to ‘secure the volume...
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This article approaches the question of territory, and its relation to politics and governance, from a historical perspective. The approach here is to interrogate the claims made by Foucault concerning territory in his work on governmentality. Foucault sees territory as crucial to the Middle Ages through to Machiavelli, but as displaced as the obje...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the early Middle Ages. It begins with a reading of Saint Augustine’s two cities, and reads him, along with Jerome and Paulus Orosius, in the context of the barbarian invasions. It moves to an analysis of the work of Boethius and Isidore of Seville and their attempts to preserve the classical heritage. The political context of...
Chapter
The book’s conclusion discusses state practices and techniques of cartography, surveying and statistics and looks at examples from many particular histories of states and their territories. It therefore outlines ways in which territory came to be understood and practiced as a political technology: it comprises techniques for measuring land and cont...
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Michel Foucault's work is rich with implications and insights concerning spatiality, and has inspired many geographers and social scientists to develop these ideas in their own research. This book, the first to engage Foucault's geographies in detail from a wide range of perspectives, is framed around his discussions with the French geography journ...
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This response to John Allen (2011) focuses on the understandings of geometry, topology, topography and territory used in the article. I challenge his largely ahistorical renderings of these terms, suggesting that these terms cannot be seen as static, and therefore put into convenient oppositions. Territory, for instance, is not simply a bounded spa...
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The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) annual Medals and Awards recognise achievements in geographical research, fieldwork, exploration, photography, teaching, and in enthusing public audiences. The speeches and citations are a record of the ceremony of 2011. With comments by Dr Sylvia Earle, Professors David Liv...
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This response to Marco Antonsich focuses on a few key issues. Contrary to the suggestion that I focus more on a term than an idea, or that my way of working is mere etymology or philology, I stress the importance of thinking the relation between words, concepts and practices. To look at any one alone is misleading and historically impoverished. I f...
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The ontologies of space and territory, our experience of them and the techniques we use to govern them, the very conception of the socio-spatial formations that we inhabit, are all historically specific: they depend on a genealogy of practices, knowledges, discourses, regulations, performances and representations articulated in a way that is extrem...
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This paper outlines a way toward conceptual and historical clarity around the question of territory. The aim is not to define territory, in the sense of a single meaning; but rather to indicate the issues at stake in grasping how it has been understood in different historical and geographical contexts. It does so first by critically interrogating w...
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This article discusses the third Greek sense of the term demos. As well as meaning either the people as a whole, or a group within them, the term also meant the deme, a location. The relation between politics, democracy and location is examined through examining models for the division of land within the Greek polis. The main focus is on Kleisthene...
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In this article, we offer an account of how the French Marxist philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre can be read as a theorist of territory. While Lefebvre’s writings on state space have generated some interest in recent years, the territorial dimensions of his thinking on this issue have not been explored. Meanwhile, the question of territory...
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This article provides a reading of the Old English poem Beowulf, with a focus on its symbolic and political geographies. The key question is the role of place or site in the poem in general terms, and the more specific issue of land. The article first analyses three significant sites in the narrative — the locations of the battles between Beowulf a...
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This paper considers the ways in which Iraq’s territorial integrity has been invoked by the international community, how it was violated by the US-led coalition between 2003 and 2007, and how these acts have called into question the future viability of the Iraqi state. The paper contends that Iraq provides an instructive illustration of how the int...
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This introductory essay provides a background to the writings of Peter Sloterdijk. It begins with a discussion of writings translated into English in the late 1980s—the Critique of Cynical Reason and Thinker on Stage—but then shows how Sloterdijk’s work has developed and changed over the last two decades. Particular attention is paid to his writing...
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This article offers a critical reassessment of Immanuel Kant's lectures on Physische Geographie and his contribution to geographical thought more generally. There are a number of reasons why this reassessment is needed: the lectures are finally about to be published in English translation; careful philological work in German has exposed how corrupt...
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This ‘afterword’ to the papers on dialectics situates the debate in the ground between Marxism and poststructuralism. Rather than a wholesale rejection of the dialectic, these authors attempt to think how poststructuralism might force an encounter with it, retaining yet transforming it. Drawing on Deleuze’s characterization of abstract thought as d...
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While geographical aspects of the « war on terror » have received extensive discussion, the specifically territorial aspects have been less well explored. This article engages with the relation between territory and terror through three main angles. First, the relation between terrorist training camps and the absence of sovereign power over territo...
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The Conservative party under David Cameron's leadership has embarked on a series of foreign policy initiatives which appear to revise the political right's traditional reluctance to interfere in third-party conflicts with no obvious British interest. This article looks at whether this shift is substantial through an examination of Cameron's and Wil...
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Foucault is unhappy at the outset of “Society Must Be Defended”.1 It is clear that the lecture as performance, with the assumed role as expert, was not to his liking, and that the preparation was getting in the way of the research itself. He speculates about the possibilities if thirty or forty of us could get together in a room. I could tell you r...
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This essay uses the war on Iraq and in particular the legal advice of the British Attorney General to explore two tensions.1 The first is between Blair's foreign policy with its ‘ethical dimension’ and call for humanitarian intervention by the international community and the project of the neo-conservatives in the US. The second is in the notion of...
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  While geographical aspects of the “war on terror” have received extensive discussion, the specifically territorial aspects have been less well explored. This article engages with the relation between territory and terror through three main angles. First, the relation between terrorist training camps and the absence of sovereign power over territo...
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In this paper I discuss Foucault’s two recently published courses, Sécurité, Territoire, Population and Naissance de la Biopolitique. Foucault notes that he has undertaken a genealogy of the modern state and its different apparatuses from the perspective of a history of governmental reason, taking into account society, economy, population, security...
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Political geographers have recently focused their attention on the performative nature and imaginative geographies of US security strategies. This work has illuminated a number of mechanisms through which geographical knowledge has been interpreted and reformulated to support specific political agendas. This paper builds upon and develops the insig...
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Book reviewed in this article: Humanitarian Space and International Politics: The Creation of Safe Areas, by Hikaru Yamashita
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This article looks at emergent challenges to the sanctity of international borders. It first provides a brief discussion of international law on the issues of uti possidetis and territorial integrity. It then examines challenges to these ideas that have emerged in recent years through the notion of contingent sovereignty and its relation to earlier...

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
Now the Foucault work is complete, the next major project will be a study of Indo-European thought in twentieth-century France. The work will look at both French and émigré scholars, including Georges Dumézil, Emile Benveniste, Mircea Eliade and Julia Kristeva. A page on my blog gives some more detail - https://progressivegeographies.com/future-projects/indo-european-thought-in-twentieth-century-france/ The project will be funded by a Leverhulme major research fellowship from 2022-2025.
Project
I have recently completed the fourth and final volume of the intellectual history of Foucault's entire career. The Archaeology of Foucault will be published in December 2022 by Polity - https://www.politybooks.com/bookdetail?book_slug=the-archaeology-of-foucault--9781509545346 The Early Foucault (Polity 2021) looks at his work from the 1940s until History of Madness in 1961; this volume at his work in the 1960s. The previously published Foucault: the Birth of Power (Polity 2017) explores his political activism, lectures and writing of the first half of the 1970s, and Foucault's Last Decade (Polity 2016) at the various detours of the History of Sexuality project and related work. More details on all this work can be found at https://progressivegeographies.com/foucault-books/
Project
A study of Foucault's work in the 1950s, and the path leading up to his 1961 book The History of Madness.