Territory, territorialisation, territoriality: Problems of definition and historical interpretation

  • Francesco Somaini Department of History, Society, and Human Studies, University of Salento, Lecce


Territory, territorialisation and territoriality are polysemic concepts. Efforts to come up with a shared notion have been numerous, and also quite effective. But the etymology of the Latin word territorium had actually a plurality of meanings.
In the Middle Ages the concept was mainly associated to the notion of Jurisdiction, and this link implied that for medieval jurists it became quite normal to imagine that a single area could be interested not only by many jurisdictions, but also by many territories and therefore different forms of territoriality.
In more recent times, this idea have been lost in favor of a statecentric notion, according to which the concept of territory would be considered primarily as the spatial projection of modern states and the salient features of territoriality should therefore be continuity, homogeneity, and isotropism.
This ‘traditional notion of territory’ seems to still enjoy some luck with many disciplines, and also with the historians. But actually the notion poses several problems, and so it had better to be abandoned to return to imagine - as suggested also by the ethological, biological, and ethno-anthropological studies - different possible forms of territoriality and many possible forms of territorialisation.

How to Cite
SOMAINI, Francesco. Territory, territorialisation, territoriality: Problems of definition and historical interpretation. Plurimondi, [S.l.], n. 10, nov. 2017. ISSN 2420-921X. Available at: <http://plurimondi.poliba.it/index.php/Plurimondi/article/view/130>. Date accessed: 22 sep. 2023.