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Intersecting Geographies of Institutions and Sovereignty

Alexander B. Murphy

Subject International Studies
Geography » Political Geography

Key-Topics governance, nationalism, sovereignty, state

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444336597.2010.x


Comment on this article   Over the past several hundred years, political geography and institutionalized sovereignty have been mutually constituted. This is because institutional norms pertaining to the legitimate exercise of authority have reflected and shaped the evolving spatial organization of power on the surface of the earth – both actual and perceived. Political geography is thus not simply the outcome of particular sovereignty norms; it is integral to their emergence and a part of their perceptual and functional character. Until the last few decades, the relationship between sovereignty and geography was not the object of much critical scrutiny. Sovereignty was treated as a relatively straightforward territorial doctrine given birth by the Peace of Westphalia, but with older roots that reflected the increasingly autonomous practices of the free cities and emergent absolutist states of late medieval Europe, as well as the principle of cuius regio, eius religio in the Holy Roman Empire. It was conceptualized as a foundational principle of the modern state system – codifying the right of rulers within the constituent units making up the system to exercise authority within their own territories while being free from interference from other territorial units. Its geographic relevance was seen to lie largely in its role in defining how the modern political-geographic order ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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