Imagining Territories: Space, Place, and the Anticity

28 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2020

See all articles by Jonathan Yovel

Jonathan Yovel

NYU School of Law - Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice; University of Haifa - Faculty of Law; Yale Law School

Date Written: January 1, 2010


This essay explores the concept of "Territory" in some of its cultural forms, as well as looks into cultural and linguistic conditions for territories-talk. Initially, it engages territory as a pre-political representation and explores its formal relation to space and to place. It defines territory as the paradigmatic non-place and contrasts it with the concept of the city (in fact, an anticity), especially as reflected in renaissance and early modern art/architecture, with examples from Schedel, Bellini, Breugel and others, as well as from contemporary graphic works (Moebius, Qual, Nowak).

Moving from the cultural to the political, territories are then explored on the background of the legal concept of res nullius, crucial in the intellectual development that generated colonialism.

Following cues from recent work in political theory, territory, as an object but not a member of geography, stands in relation to the state in a perpetual state of exception.

The work then moves to apply the analysis of the non-place to media representations (both visual and linguistic) of the Iraq and other conflicts. The tension between place and non-place (in a much more divisive way than in Augé's work) is further explored through Derrida's deconstruction of in/out relations and the Hellenic ritual of pharmakon, and through observations concerning several literary works including Oedipus in Colonus, Kafka's The Trial and Calvino's Invisible Cities.

Other theoretical frameworks dealt with are Jaus' "reception aesthetics," new work in narrative analysis of spatial relations, and the meaning of conceptualization according to Wittgenstein, Barthes, and Austin.

Keywords: Political geography, cultural geography, critical art history, Pharmakon, deconstruction, colonialism, territories, space, place, no-place, anticity, state of exception, Derrida, Auge, Political theology

Suggested Citation

Yovel, Jonathan, Imagining Territories: Space, Place, and the Anticity (January 1, 2010). University of Haifa Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan Yovel (Contact Author)

NYU School of Law - Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice ( email )

New York
United States

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905

Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203.435.5911 (Phone)

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