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10th anniversary of Territory, Politics, Governance: achievements and prospects

Dodds, Klaus, Broto, Vanesa Castán, Detterbeck, Klaus, JONES, Martin, Mamadouh, Virginie, Ramutsindela, Maano, Varsanyi, Monica, Wachsmuth, David and Woon, Chih Yuan (2022) 10th anniversary of Territory, Politics, Governance: achievements and prospects. Territory, Politics, Governance, 10 (2). pp. 145-158. ISSN 2162-2671

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Ten years ago, the founding Editor-in-Chief of Territory, Politics, Governance, Professor John Agnew, published an editorial in the inaugural issue of this journal. Launched by the Regional Studies Association, and enabled and supported by fellow editors and the publishing team, the vision of the journal was set out clearly and concisely: ‘The intersection between the three words in the journal’s name defines the central purpose of the journal: to publish and encourage research on territorial politics, spaces of governance, and the political organization of space’ (Agnew, 2013, p. 1). What followed was an overview of the scholarly landscape outlining areas of established and emerging interest across the social sciences. It built on Agnew’s scholarly portfolio, which has been dedicated to dismantling the unstated geographical assumptions underpinning strands of international relations, political-economy, globalization and classical geopolitics (e.g., Agnew, 1994, 2019). Like other critical human geographers such as Doreen Massey, Agnew argued that territory is poorly understood if thought of as an absolute container-like structure with a sharply defined sense of the domestic and the external. While such a worldview may be de rigueur to populists and nationalists the world over, contemporary crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate emergency puncture such ‘conventional nostrums’ that Agnew’s editorial referred to (Agnew, 2013, p. 1). Much of the work the journal has done in its first decade has been to inculcate and support a richer spatial vocabulary and conceptualization of territory.

Read in the year the journal celebrates its 10th anniversary, Agnew’s editorial reveals a world that seems radically different to the one we find ourselves in now (as noted by Agnew, 2021). There is little to no reference to the climate emergency nor infectious disease. Much of the focus is on how this intersectional focus on territory, politics and governance allows scholars to excavate, recover and scrutinize a world, which is but should not be defined by the nation-state as the exclusive unit of politics and governance. We have moved beyond the ‘territorial trap’ as Agnew (1994) previously put it. This ethos continued through the journal’s first volume with two issues debating the historical and contemporary significance of territory alongside forensic interrogations of regional and national governance in Europe, Russia and Asia. While Agnew’s editorial did not explicitly mention non-Western and indigenous epistemologies and ontologies pertaining to the remit of the journal, the second editorial by Professor Ananya Roy made the compelling claim that the journal had to engage with more than ‘one place on the map’ (Roy, 2013, p. 113). The subsequent volumes and issues of the journal have borne out the fundamental point that there is an absolute necessity to attract, support and publish work that challenges and de-normalizes Euro-Western norms and experiences of territory, politics and governance. We would expect, furthermore, a new generation of scholarship to be more prominently represented in the journal that explicitly decolonizes those norms and experiences as opposed to important work that has considered decolonization alongside the politics of sovereignty and recognition (e.g., Griffiths, 2017).

As the journal enters its second decade, it now publishes six issues per year (as opposed to the inaugural two) and attracts increasingly interdisciplinary submissions from around the world. Armed with our expanded editorial team and new editorial board members, we are excited about developing the journal’s agenda. We welcome to the team our new digital media editor, Dr Azadeh Akbari from the University of Munster, and early-career editor Dr Carlo Inverardi-Ferri from Queen Mary University of London. Change is also being driven by social and technical changes that have affected the operating environment of learned societies and journals. Agnew’s original editorial devotes relatively little attention to digital media environments and now it would be hard to imagine not reflecting on the work that the digital does in shaping the intersection of territory, politics and governance. One only has to think of the spectacular rise in the use of social media in cultural and political life, the unsettling role of ‘fake news’ in manipulating political cultures, and the way big data have revolutionized practices of territorial control (the smart border, for example) and digital surveillance. Since the pandemic unleashed a new world of digital working, we have embraced the opportunity to organize online editorial meetings and unveiled a series of virtual seminars with leading scholars such as Julian Agyeman and Simon Dalby. In 2022, Franck Bille and Caroline Humphrey, authors of On the Edge, will deliver the virtual annual lecture, reflecting on the lived experiences of the vast Chinese–Russian borderlands (Bille & Humphrey, 2021), and the journal will also host feminist climate change scholar Farhana Sultana in conversation.

We outline below some thoughts about where our journal’s agenda is likely to take us. It reflects on four key themes for the future of the journal: climate emergency, migration state, digitalization and conceptualization. These are by no means exhaustive. Mindful of the perils of futurology, we offer these thoughts and reflections as contributing to a shared conversation. Just as when we collaborated on a Covid-19 editorial in 2020, the spirit and sense of purpose that underpins our work on the journal will continue to be collegial and curious as to where we will travel together, intellectually speaking (Dodds et al., 2020). In the light of the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces in February 2022, our journal will unquestionably remain committed to publishing scholarship addressing the violent geographies of territorial dispossession.

Item Type: Article
Faculty: Executive
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2022 13:47
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2022 13:47
URI: https://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/7352

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