ArticlePDF Available

The territorial lens: operational spaces of extraction and resistance

Article

The territorial lens: operational spaces of extraction and resistance

Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rtep20
Download by: [UVA Universiteitsbibliotheek SZ] Date: 15 January 2018, At: 00:03
Territory, Politics, Governance
ISSN: 2162-2671 (Print) 2162-268X (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rtep20
The territorial lens: operational spaces of
extraction and resistance
Justus Uitermark
To cite this article: Justus Uitermark (2018) The territorial lens: operational spaces of extraction
and resistance, Territory, Politics, Governance, 6:1, 1-4, DOI: 10.1080/21622671.2017.1414915
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/21622671.2017.1414915
Published online: 11 Jan 2018.
Submit your article to this journal
Article views: 62
View related articles
View Crossmark data
EDITORIAL
The territorial lens: operational spaces of extraction
and resistance
Justus Uitermark
When I was a child, I found foreign embassies intriguing. It is a fascinating idea that you enter a
jurisdiction where different laws apply the moment you step through their doors (or, in the case of
the American embassy, pass through the gate). I suppose I sensed that embassies are like small
pieces of foreign jurisdiction punctuating an otherwise seamless Westphalian tapestry of nations.
Even today, the privileges afforded to embassies create exceptional territories out of reach from the
governments of the countries in which they are located. Sagas like Julian Assanges refuge in the
Ecuadorian embassy in London keep alive embassiesmystique, but the seamless Westphalian
patchwork that used to surround them has become much more chequered and complex. The
orderly image of a world divided into distinct national territories still dominates our collective
imagination to the degree that it can be counterintuitive to think of territories without thinking
of nations. However, the work published in this journal in its rst ve years has demonstrated
through theoretical reection and empirical research that territories are shifting in important ways.
Several papers in this issue illustrate how the construction of territories beyond, within and
between nations is crucial for understanding exploitation and extraction as well as resistance
and contention. In her paper, based on the journals annual lecture at the 2016 meeting of the
Association of American Geographers, Sassen (2017, in this issue) engages in historical and theor-
etical reection as she attempts to come to grips with complexities of new operational spacesand
their discontents. In stark contrast to embassies with their ag-adorned buildings, new operational
spaces are difcult to locate or even characterize. These spaces are rooted in national jurisdictions
but also elide them; they are construed through complex legal arrangements, yet also lie beyond
existing law. While charting these complex and opaque spaces requires an almost metaphysical
vocabulary, their efcacy in facilitating extraction is simply brutal (Sassen, 2014). In the case of
Argentina, the vulture fund Elliot Associates L.P. purchased discounted debts for an approxi-
mated US$48 million and then increased that value to between US$832 million and US$2.3 bil-
lion through effective litigation, in effect impoverishing the Argentinian population and its
government (Sassen, 2017, in this issue). Elliot accomplishes such extraction through an inge-
nious strategy of litigation that strategically exploits openings in juridical systems and effectively
negates the sovereignty of state debtors. It is fascinating as well as disturbing that the nancial
downfall of nations in Latin America is brokered through a local New York court.
The vulture funds Sassen investigates are part of a rapidly expanding galaxy of corporate and
legal institutions designed to extract value from populations and shield capital from taxation.
Drawing on leaked documents, including Lux Leaks (2014) and the Panama Papers (2015), jour-
nalists have begun to document how investment funds, corporations and super rich individuals
keep their assets out of view and out of reach. Recent scholarship by political scientists and
© 2017 Regional Studies Association
CONTACT
justusuitermark@hotmail.com
Department of Sociology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
TERRITORY, POLITICS, GOVERNANCE, 2018
VOL. 6, NO. 1, 14
https://doi.org/10.1080/21622671.2017.1414915
Downloaded by [UVA Universiteitsbibliotheek SZ] at 00:03 15 January 2018
computational researchers has mapped the constellation of offshore nancial centres that serve as
conduits or harbours for evasive capital (Garcia-Bernardo, Fichtner, Takes, & Heemskerk, 2017).
The size and complexity of this constellation are daunting: the research documented 71 million
ownership relations between 98 million rms. These centres owe their centrality to legal and
nancial rms that are as inventive as they are unscrupulous. Sassens paper participates in efforts
to understand these complex legal and nancial networks through a territorial lens and to tease out
the connections between the seemingly mundane operations of legal and nancial rms and the
violence inicted upon the populations from whom value is extracted (cf. Sassen, 2014).
While Sassens paper focuses on vulture funds, she argues that her analysis also applies to acti-
vist organizations. Indeed, Ridings(2016, in this issue) account of Bosnias Plenum movement
resonates with Sassens description of operational spacesthat include only parts of national ter-
ritoriesand cross multiple state borders with great ease(Sassen, 2017, in this issue, p. 5). Par-
ticipants in the Plenum movement, and Riding with it, envision a future of justice and
democracy beyond national borders and territorial disputes(Riding, 2016, in this issue, p. 17).
The operational space here is equally difcult to pin down, and that is precisely the point: the
movement traverses territories and erodes ethnic identities, reconstituting people and spaces in
the process. Although they have radically different motivations and aspirations from vulture
funds like Elliot, the movement participants also seek to break out of the mould of inherited
state structures and sovereignties. The movement participants constitute new spaces that negate
the triad of territoryethnicitystate as they gather in streets or factories to envision a different
future for the former Yugoslavia. Reimagining the future, in the case of the Plenum movement,
involves reimagining the past. Next to the familiar action repertoires of sit-ins, manifestos and
occupations, movement participants engage in collective remembrance. Mourning what has
been lost becomes a prelude to imagining what can come. In the process, movement participants
not only recongure their places and identications but also destabilize preconceived notions of
the Balkans. Parallel to the movements attempts to rewrite the regions future by reconsidering
its past, Riding draws inspiration from the writings of William Bunge and especially Fred Single-
ton to rehabilitate and revise regional geography.
Wolkin and Nevinss paper (2016, in this issue) on the contention surrounding the land claims
of the Cayugan Nation also charts struggles over territory and sovereignty. The Cayugas have
demanded reparations on the grounds that they were brutally driven from their lands in a murder-
ous campaign following American independence. Although the courts acknowledged the injus-
tices, they argued that recognizing the land claims would be too disruptive and unjust for
residents who are not of Cayugan descent. Interestingly, the Cayugas then looked for a different
route to realize their aspirations by applying to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to have their
properties placed in a federal trust, which would exempt them from local and state taxes and regu-
lations. If successful, they would transform private property (real estate) into sovereign territory.
Johnson and Jones (2016, in this issue) use the lens of territorialityto bring into view the co-
evolution of geopolitics and biopolitics in the case of Melilla, a Spanish exclave in North Africa
surrounded by Morocco. To stop immigrants from reaching mainland Europe, border enforce-
ment has expanded beyond European borders. One tangible expression of such expansive border
control are the three fences enclosing Melilla: only if immigrants succeed in crossing the third and
innermost fence have they reached Melilla. Although Morocco contests Spains claims over
Melilla and other Spanish exclaves, Spain has enlisted the Moroccan government and its police
in its border enforcement. Paid for by European funds, the Moroccan government has removed
immigrant camps in the proximity of Melilla and erected a heavily guarded fence to thwart immi-
grants. Geopolitics fuses with biopolitics as the plethora of enforcement practices are externalized
from the European territories they are designed to shield.
Phelps and Valler (2016, in this issue), too, use territory as an entry point into politics,
although their interest is less in the creation of new openings than in chronic limitations.
2Justus Uitermark
TERRITORY, POLITICS, GOVERNANCE
Downloaded by [UVA Universiteitsbibliotheek SZ] at 00:03 15 January 2018
While some authors have framed urban governance through mechanic metaphors (the growth
machine) and others have argued that politics proper is founded on the radical demand for equal-
ity, Phelps and Valler focus on local governances quotidian frictions. What may appear as
expressions of dysfunctional government contradictory policy agendas, delays, obstructionism
Phelps and Valler trace back to the territorial discrepancies inherent in any local governance con-
guration. Building on Coxs and Storpers earlier contributions to this journal (Cox, 2013; Stor-
per, 2014) and complementing the contribution by Haughton, Gilchrist, and Swyngedouw
(2016), Phelps and Valler help us understand why urban governance is, most of the time, neither
a smoothly running machine nor a site of overt ideological conict.
Pruysers (2016, in this issue) and Pike, Coombes, OBrien, and Tomaney (2016, in this
issue) illustrate how ne-grained analyses of relations across different governmental levels
can reveal signicant variation. Pruysers shows that there are important variations not only
between parties (as the literature has already established) but also within parties. Although
he takes Canada as his case study, Pruyserss research opens up new vistas onto the study
of intra- and inter-party relations generally. His analysis shows that researchers of politics can-
not make assumptions about the grassroots based on their analysis of national politics; students
of political parties will have to look at multiple arenas in order to get a complete picture of
party behaviour(Pruysers, 2016, in this issue, p. 112).
Although their empirical focus is different, research by Pike et al. (2016, in this issue) on the
dismantling of regional development agencies (RDAs) similarly shows that developments at the
local level cannot be read off from the national level. Once regarded as the epitome of neoliberal
restructuring, RDAs have now fallen victim to the UK governments austerity politics. To under-
stand how a seemingly uniform policy measure such as the dismantling of RDAs plays out, Pike et
al. argue, we need to develop a geographically sensitive approach that examines how actors mediate
state restructuring in specic contexts.
Launching Territory, Politics, Governance has proved a challenging but rewarding project. That
project crucially involves authors who submitted their work to the journal before it could develop a
reputation because they believe in the journals mission. The project also involves referees who
generously give their time to evaluate papers and assist in maintaining the journals high standards.
Considering the time pressures that academics face and lack of recognition that is intrinsic to the
work of anonymous referees, it is encouraging that so many researchers have volunteered their time
to review papers.
Although the important work of reviewers will not always receive the credit it deserves, we have
the privilege to provide recognition to at least one: the editorial board was pleased to give the 2017
Regional Studies Association award for the journals best referee to Monica Varsanyi (CUNY
Graduate Center and John Jay College of Criminal Justice) for her incredibly helpful, critical
and detailed comments. The 2017 award for the best paper in the journal was given to Patrick
Le Galès for his paper Neoliberalism and urban change: stretching a good idea too far?(Le
Galès, 2016). The paper goes against the grain of much current thinking in a productive and con-
structive way, and intervenes in contemporary debates while drawing on classic literature.
REFERENCES
Cox, K. R. (2013). Territory, scale, and why capitalism matters. Territory, Politics, Governance,1,4661.
Garcia-Bernardo, J., Fichtner, J., Takes, F. W., & Heemskerk, E. M. (2017). Uncovering offshore nancial
centers: Conduits and sinks in the global corporate ownership network. Scientic Reports,7, 1. Article number
6246, 110.
Haughton, G., Gilchrist, A., & Swyngedouw, E. (2016). Rise like lions after slumber: Dissent, protest and
(post)politics in Manchester. Territory, Politics, Governance,4, 472491. doi:10.1080/21622671.2016.1141705
The territorial lens 3
TERRITORY, POLITICS, GOVERNANCE
Downloaded by [UVA Universiteitsbibliotheek SZ] at 00:03 15 January 2018
Johnson, C., & Jones, R. (2016). The biopolitics and geopolitics of border enforcement in Melilla. Territory,
Politics, Governance,6,6079. doi:10.1080/21622671.2016.1236746
Le Galès, P. (2016). Neoliberalism and urban change: Stretching a good idea too far? Territory, Politics, Governance,
4, 154172. doi:10.1080/21622671.2016.1165143
Phelps, N. A., & Valler, D. (2016). Urban development and the politics of dissonance. Territory, Politics,
Governance,6,80102. doi:10.1080/21622671.2016.1231629
Pike, A., Coombes, M., OBrien, P., & Tomaney, J. (2016). Austerity states, institutional dismantling and the gov-
ernance of sub-national economic development: The demise of the regional development agencies in England.
Territory, Politics, Governance,6, 117143. doi:10.1080/21622671.2016.1228475
Pruysers, S. (2016). Party integration at the grassroots: Evidence from Canada. Territory, Politics, Governance,6,
103116. doi:10.1080/21622671.2016.1260492
Riding, J. (2016). A new regional geography of a revolution: Bosnias Plenum movement. Territory, Politics,
Governance,6,1440. doi:10.1080/21622671.2016.1260491
Sassen, S. (2014). Expulsions: Brutality and complexity in the global economy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press/Belknap.
Sassen, S. (2017). Embedded borderings: Making new geographies of centrality. Territory, Politics, Governance,6,
313. doi:10.1080/21622671.2017.1290546
Storper, M. (2014). Governing the large metropolis. Territory, Politics, Governance,2, 115134.
Wolkin, K., & Nevins, J. (2016). No sovereign nation, no reservation: Producing the new colonialism in Cayuga
Count(r)y. Territory, Politics, Governance,6,4159. doi:10.1080/21622671.2016.1238318
4Justus Uitermark
TERRITORY, POLITICS, GOVERNANCE
Downloaded by [UVA Universiteitsbibliotheek SZ] at 00:03 15 January 2018
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
A major reason for the peripheral treatment of political conflict in established theories of urban development derives from the tendency to underplay questions of territory and spatial governance. In this paper we examine the implications of territorial discrepancy amongst governance arrangements and introduce the notion of ‘urban political dissonance’ in order to engage sustained patterns of conflict or incongruity. This focus implies examination of strategic action on the part of competing urban interests which may result in policy incoherence, institutional manoeuvring in pursuit of divergent objectives, and difficulties in finding workable compromise, with potentially significant implications for economic development outcomes. An illustrative case study is presented of growth politics in Oxford, U.K., where a central and unresolved dilemma over the physical expansion of the city has effectively defined the nature of development politics for a generation, leading to ongoing political conflict and policy incongruity.
Article
Full-text available
Embedded borderings: making new geographies of centrality. Territory, Politics, Governance. The organizing thesis posits the emergence of specific operational spaces that recur in country after country but are not necessarily framed by national or international law, or by visible legal markers, even as they use particular national institutions such as laws and courts. These operational spaces contribute to the making of cross-border geographies that include only parts of national territories, often excluding most of the pertinent ‘sovereign territory’ that houses them. These operational spaces look like they belong to those countries as they are marked by thick territorial insertions: whether it is financial centres with their massive concentrations of buildings, or human rights activists tracking tortured bodies in prisons or abandoned fields. Yet, they are in fact tightly bordered territorial fragments that keep out what they do not want in. This specificity holds even for actors operating within a given economic sector, such as finance, where the two cases examined here – the financial ‘system’ and so-called ‘vulture funds’ – each has its own operational field. But it also holds for the operational spaces of actors as diverse as human rights activists and ISIS, to mention extremes, which I do not focus on here. The result is a proliferation of cross- border geographies constituted via specific components of each country; these geographies weave themselves across old divisions – north, south, and east–west. The actors in these new types of transversally bordered spaces range from small resource-poor organizations to powerful corporations. KEYWORDS operational spaces; territorial insertions; multi-state geographies; transversalities
Article
Full-text available
Multinational corporations use highly complex structures of parents and subsidiaries to organize their operations and ownership. Offshore Financial Centers (OFCs) facilitate these structures through low taxation and lenient regulation, but are increasingly under scrutiny, for instance for enabling tax avoidance. Therefore, the identification of OFC jurisdictions has become a politicized and contested issue. We introduce a novel data-driven approach for identifying OFCs based on the global corporate ownership network, in which over 98 million firms (nodes) are connected through 71 million ownership relations. This granular firm-level network data uniquely allows identifying both sink-OFCs and conduit-OFCs. Sink-OFCs attract and retain foreign capital while conduit-OFCs are attractive intermediate destinations in the routing of international investments and enable the transfer of capital without taxation. We identify 24 sink-OFCs. In addition, a small set of five countries -- the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore and Switzerland -- canalize the majority of corporate offshore investment as conduit-OFCs. Each conduit jurisdiction is specialized in a geographical area and there is significant specialization based on industrial sectors. Against the idea of OFCs as exotic small islands that cannot be regulated, we show that many sink and conduit-OFCs are highly developed countries.
Article
Full-text available
A new regional geography of a revolution: Bosnia’s Plenum movement. Territory, Politics, Governance. This paper sheds a light on a recent reawakening of radical politics in the former Yugoslavia. It focuses on citizens living radical politics after socialism, as new groups and movements in the region struggle to embed radically democratic visions of society. Via an on-the-ground regional study, it exposes the endless post-conflict, post-socialist transition era after Yugoslavia, which has for citizens meant general impoverishment, de-industrialization, mass unemployment and living under a post-democratic governance of divisive and corrupt elites. Out of this desert of post-socialism a form of horizontal democracy emerged called Plenum, the most radical experiment in non-institutional politics that can be found across the Balkans since the collapse of Yugoslavia.
Article
Full-text available
The biopolitics and geopolitics of border enforcement in Melilla. Territory, Politics, Governance. This article uses the multiple and contradictory realities of Melilla, a pene-enclave and -exclave of Spain in North Africa, to draw out the contemporary practice of Spanish, European Union, and Moroccan immigration enforcement policies. The city is many things at once: a piece of Europe in North Africa and a symbol of Spain’s colonial history; an example of the contemporary narrative of a cosmopolitan and multicultural Europe; a place where extraterritorial and intraterritorial dynamics demonstrate territory’s continuing allure despite the security challenges and the lack of economic or strategic value; a metaphorical island of contrasting geopolitical and biopolitical practices; and a place of regional flows and cross-border cooperation between Spain, the EU, and Morocco. It is a border where the immunitary logic of sovereign territorial spaces is exposed through the biopolitical practices of the state to ‘protect’ the community from outsiders. In light of the hardening of borders throughout European and North African space in recent years, this article offers a rich case study of our persistently territorial world.
Article
Full-text available
Urban development and the politics of dissonance. Territory, Politics, Governance. A major reason for the peripheral treatment of political conflict in established theories of urban development derives from the tendency to underplay questions of territory and spatial governance. In this paper, we examine the implications of territorial discrepancy amongst governance arrangements and introduce the notion of ‘urban political dissonance’ in order to engage sustained patterns of conflict or incongruity. This focus implies examination of strategic action on the part of competing urban interests which may result in policy incoherence, institutional manoeuvring in pursuit of divergent objectives and difficulties in finding workable compromise, with potentially significant implications for economic development outcomes. An illustrative case study is presented of growth politics in Oxford, UK, where a central and unresolved dilemma over the physical expansion of the city has effectively defined the nature of development politics for a generation, leading to ongoing political conflict and policy incongruity.
Article
Party integration at the grassroots: evidence from Canada. Territory, Politics, Governance. Party organization and electoral competition are increasingly taking place within structures of multilevel governance. While a growing body of literature has recently emerged, quantifying linkages between national and sub-national political parties, considerably less attention has been devoted to understanding theoretically how parties cooperate with one another or the range of possibilities available to national and sub-national parties. Drawing upon an original survey of nearly 300 federal and provincial constituency associations in Canada’s largest province, this paper adds to the literature in two important ways. First, it systematically and empirically evaluates a recent typology of grassroots party integration. In doing so, it demonstrates the considerable variation that can be found between and within parties. Second, examining the direction of cooperation and collaboration, it provides evidence to challenge the view of multilevel party linkages as an upward flow. Indeed, the evidence suggests that the relationship, at least in the Canadian case, is much more reciprocal in nature.
Article
‘No sovereign nation, no reservation’: producing the new colonialism in Cayuga Count(r)y. Territory, Politics, Governance. Since 1980, the Cayuga Nation has worked through various US politico-legal mechanisms to establish sovereignty over land taken from them by European settlers and their descendants in what is today New York State beginning in the 1700s. When, in 2005, the US Supreme Court refused to review a lower court’s dismissal of their case, the Cayugas began purchasing land they claim from local (non-Cayuga) property owners. Relatedly, they petitioned the US Bureau of Indian Affairs to place the land that they collectively own into federal trust, which would exempt them from various taxes. These efforts have engendered strong opposition from elements of the non-Native population, particularly the organization Upstate Citizens for Equality (UCE). This article interrogates the discourse of UCE, and its allies and antecedents, one that effectively nationalizes the Cayugas by producing them as ‘normal’ US citizens, as well as that of the federal courts. It illustrates how a discourse emphasizing equality, fairness, (US) nationhood and private property obfuscates the Cayuga’s dispossession and the nature of their land claim, to reproduce a colonized space, and to give rise to what we call ‘the new colonialism’, producing an impasse whose overcoming requires a far-reaching rethinking of territory and sovereignty.
Article
Austerity states, institutional dismantling and the governance of sub-national economic development: the demise of the regional development agencies in England. Territory, Politics, Governance. Contributing to interpretations of the governance geographies of austerity, the paper explains how, why and in what forms austerity states are constructed by actors in particular political-economic contexts and geographical and temporal settings, how and by whom they are articulated and pursued, and how they are worked through public policy and institutional and territorial architectures. Empirically, the focus is explaining the UK Government and its abolition and closure of the regional development agencies in England. First, a more qualitative and plural conception of austerity states is developed to question singular and/or monolithic notions of state types and their transitions, and to better reflect the particularities of how state projects are configured and unfolded by actors within political-economic variegations of capitalism. Second, a more geographically sensitive approach and appreciation of (re)scaling are detailed to incorporate and extend beyond the predominantly national frame and decentralizing narratives deployed in current accounts. Last, a historically literate interpretation of institutional dismantling is advanced better to explain the politics and restructuring of institutional landscapes by actors within austerity states.
Article
This article aims to improve our understanding of post-politicization by examining the role of ‘ordinary’ urban protest movements, using the example of a protest in Alexandra Park, an inner city park in Manchester, UK. The critical literature on postpolitics has improved our understanding of exceptional, large-scale protests, but we know much less about how smaller scale protests emerge and in time wind down. Our research is revealing of the post-politicizing tactics of the city authorities in containing protest and of how the protesters lost momentum, focusing on contesting techno-managerial processes for consultation and undertaking scientific surveys. Whilst universalizing claims were made about democratic enfranchisement, the authorities were able to counter and diffuse these.