‘Regimes of territorial legitimation’ in a fast-changing world: why they matter and how they change
The work of Anssi Paasi and others highlights the importance of viewing territories as institutionalized social constructs. The territorial claims made by states should be seen in this light, as these are fundamentally influenced by regimes of territorial legitimation. These regimes are a product of taken-for-granted ideas about the relationship between people and territory that emerged along with the modern state system, and related understandings of the political-cultural circumstances that gave rise to states as juridically independent entities. There is considerable inertia to the initial regimes of territorial legitimation that take root after a state becomes independent, but they can evolve over time in response to shifts in the internal challenges states face, changing geopolitical circumstances, and the ideological commitments of state leaders. Understanding the nature and changing character of regimes of territorial legitimation can shed light on the forces shaping interstate conflict in the contemporary world.