Review: A Political Theory of Territory

A Political Theory of Territory by Margaret Moore

Territorial rights are a hotly contested issue across the world today. Russian-annexed Crimea, the conflict in Iraq regarding Kurdistan, Indigenous and First Nations groups fighting for control over historical lands, oceanic conflict in the South China Sea, Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the West Bank; all of these events have made international headlines in recent years. And it has begged the question: how can we decide who has the right to control any one peace of land?

Margaret Moore’s  book explores this particularly thorny and contested issue. Her theory outlines a few key characteristics of rightful ownership of territory: the people share a political identity to express their right to self-determination, they rightfully occupy that land, and they have a continuing relationship with the land and its resources. Now these are very general criteria and one can easily see that there might be holes, but Moore goes into detail about the merits and pitfalls of her theory. She compares it to other theories of territorial rights, and explores the theory in terms of real life historical and present examples of territorial conflict. These case studies of practical application of her theory were parts I particularly enjoyed about this book.

I gave the A Political Theory of Territory a 6/10. I think the topic is very pertinent to modern day geopolitical conflict, both internationally as well as domestically here in Canada. I didn’t actually agree with Moore, but I think she presents interesting arguments and surveyed the issue from a (relatively) neutral stance.  I would definitely recommend this book if you’re into geopolitics and international relations. However, the book is very academic and can get a bit dry at times. Unless you’re truly interested in the topic, I would probably warn that you might not be able to enjoy it.







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