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Critical legal geographies of possession : Antarctica and the International Geophysical Year 1957–1958

Collis, Christy (2010) Critical legal geographies of possession : Antarctica and the International Geophysical Year 1957–1958. GeoJournal, 75(4), pp. 387-395.

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Abstract

This is an article about the politics of territory in Antarctica. It revolves around what at first seems like a very simple geopolitical question: who owns Antarctica? As this article demonstrates, this seemingly simple question is far from easy to answer: it cannot be answered with a straightforward list of states, nor by conventional geopolitical understandings of territorial possession (Agnew and Corbridge, Mastering space: Hegemony, territory, and international political economy, 1995). Struggles between states for territorial possession has characterised much recent geopolitical history; struggles for Antarctica do not entirely follow this pattern, and revolve instead on the nature and the concept of territorial possession itself. The article focuses in particular on the debates about, and changes to, Antarctic legal and geopolitical territories triggered by the 1957–1958 International Geophysical Year: before the IGY Antarctica was an unstable composite of state claims, unclaimed terra nullius , and terra nullius or land unavailable to state claim. By the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, this unstable composite legal and geopolitical geography emerged as a new form of territory, one in which the conventional global mode of territory—state possession—was no longer dominant. Understanding Antarctic legal geographies adds depth to critical geopolitical studies which focus on the ways in which space is actively constructed by specific discourses, understandings, and groups.

Impact and interest:

1 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 21224
Item Type: Journal Article
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Antaarctica, International Geophysical Year, legal geography, terra nullius, terra communis
DOI: 10.1007/s10708-009-9260-2
ISSN: 0343-2521
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > HISTORICAL STUDIES (210300) > Historical Studies not elsewhere classified (210399)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > OTHER LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (189900) > Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified (189999)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > HUMAN GEOGRAPHY (160400) > Social and Cultural Geography (160403)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > Schools > Journalism, Media & Communication
Deposited On: 16 Jun 2009 13:49
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2012 00:12

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