All That You Leave Behind: The Territorial Relationship of Heritage Defence Sites

7 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2012

Date Written: March 27, 2012


The decommissioning of military bases is typically difficult and emotional. In the shadows of more evocative issues, such as the potential for job loss at the local level, stands the more nuanced status of the territory on which the military base is located. When a country decides to leave a foreign military base there is a distinct rupture in the territorial relationship. Domestically, however, there are far more complications. At the very practical level, the territorial relationship in the case of heritage defence sites invites a host of legal questions, from complying with the terms of the territorial lease or other property-granting mechanism used by the national government to assume control over the area to the need for national and local officials to incorporate the heritage defence site into strategies for land management, heritage preservation and environmental conservation. At the theoretical level, the territory must itself be decommissioned and brought within the realm of the local population’s identity in a new way. This involves law in the strict sense but also law in a softer sense, as the informal laws of the community and its sense of identity must also be changed to incorporate and accept the heritage defence site as a part of the communal territorial identity.

This paper will explore the practical and theoretical elements of the territorial relationship of heritage defence sites. The goal of this paper is to foster a full understanding of this relationship so that those involved in the planning of heritage defence sites at all levels will understand the many dimension of this undertaking and how to address them in a positive manner.

Suggested Citation

Harrington, Alexandra R., All That You Leave Behind: The Territorial Relationship of Heritage Defence Sites (March 27, 2012). Albany Law School Research Paper No. 50 of 2011/2012, Available at SSRN: or

Alexandra R. Harrington (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

CISDL ( email )

Montreal, Quebec

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