Delineating Logistics

Neeraj Bhatia

In the increasingly interconnected globe, the relationship between systems—both natural and artificial—across scales, has expanded the spatial design discipline’s focus from site to the engagement with a broader territory.

How this territory is defined and where/how designers should act on this territory, however, is difficult to ascertain, as globalized networks tend to move people, matter, and economics in complex ways that are continually being renegotiated. Territory refers to a delineated portion of geographic space that is claimed or occupied by a person, group of persons, or institution.[1] How territory is delineated depends on distinct ways of parsing geographic space, which reflect particular social and spatial organizations.[2] Territoriality is intimately linked to the notion of territory, and can be described by how individuals or groups claim space. That is to say, territoriality reveals how power manifests itself in geographic space and how limits are defined, as posited by David Storey, “Territoriality can be seen as the spatial expression of power and the processes of control and contestation over portions of geographic space are central concerns of political geography. Any consideration of territories necessarily raises questions to do with boundaries.”[3] The delineation of the boundary was central to defining territory, and is a product of several factors including cultural and social organizational relationships. More recently, globalization and its associated regional economic alliances (for instance, the EU, ASEAN, NAFTA, etc.) have suggested that boundaries are increasingly more permeable, temporal, and non-spatially defined. The ever-expansionist mechanisms of capitalism have created new relationships that are both comprehensively integrated while also blurring and making more complex the standard definition of territory. Within the endless carpet of urbanization, boundaries (national amongst others) are reduced in significance, making it more difficult to pinpoint how power manifests itself geographically.[4] Despite this blurring, we can still look to space, and how space has been organized through material infrastructure, to develop an initial understanding of how a complex set of factors (political, economic, social, etc.) have been negotiated.

Ketchup by Felipe Zene Motta from Urban Works Agency.
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[i] David Storey, Territories: The Claiming of Space, (New York: Routledge, 2001), 1.
[ii] Elden posits, “The idea of a political technology seeks to capture the processual, multiple, and conflictual nature of the bundle of political techniques – that expanded sense – that make up and transform the contested and diverse notion of territory. Territory cannot simply be understood as the political-economic notion of land, nor even as a political-strategic sense of terrain, but instead comprises the techniques use to- among other elements – measure land and control and mange the terrain.” Stuart Elden, “Introduction” in The Birth of Territory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 17.
[iii] David Storey, Territories: The Claiming of Space, (New York: Routledge, 2001), 9. Emphasis added
[iv] Ibid., 3, 9.