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Date: Sun, 11 Jan 1998 15:50:03 +0000
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From: Kristin Jansen
Subject: Territoriality

Dear list

I am suppose to write a paper on how different cultures define and percieve 'territorialtiy'.
So far the only useful book I was able to find on this topic was Fred Myer's 'Pintupi Country. Pintupi Self'.
I would be most thankful for any advise where else to look out for information!

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Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 08:08:54 +0100
Reply-To: Nold Egenter
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Subject: Re: Territoriality
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You wrote:

>Dear list

>I am suppose to write a paper on how different cultures define and >percieve 'territorialtiy'.
>So far the only useful book I was able to find on this topic was Fred >Myer's 'Pintupi Country. Pintupi Self'.
>I would be most thankful for any advise where else to look out for >information!

Dear Kristin,

a very interesting, but very difficult - and, in your formulation - a very far reaching question.

Robert Ardrey (The territorial Imperative, 1966) has brilliantly dealt with the great importance of territory in the animal world, but gives only some very questionable 'biologisms' in regard to human territoriality. Questionable because 'territoriality' of humans is a cultural problem.

However, the main problem seems to be: human territoriality has been absorbed by the theoretical pyramid of 'religion', thus covering up its phenomenological characteristics of 'demarcation' and 'organisation of settlement space'.

The history of this misrepresentation is closely related to the diffusion-history of 'higher' religion, particularly Christianisation. In the latter case the scholastic absolutism of the 'spiritual' at the top of the theoretical pyramid had the consequence that all data at its basis - worldwide - were apriori interpreted according to the parameters of the top. Materially represented phenomena were devalued, primitivised (fetish, spirit huts, idols, etc.) and integrated into the primitive belief-system (superstition, idolatry etc.). Modern ethnology inherited this huge body of prejudiced data and continues to project its Eurocentrisms on it. I think, this is the main reason why you did not find any literature on the topic. Very likely territoriality is a very important aspect, particularly in traditional cultures, but it has been distorted and put into the wrong section of the humanities (religion instead of law or constitution).

In a particular culturo-geographic domain (agrarian Japan) which is only marginally touched by higher religion (Buddhism, which is very tolerant in this regard) I have done a study which comes close to what you might be looking for (Egenter: Bauform als Zeichen und Symbol, 1980; Semantic and symbolic Architecture 1995 -> Website, Books on Architectural Anthropology). In the framework of a new approach (anthropology of architecture and space), this study documented the cyclic ujigami-cults (clan- or settlement protector deity) of 100 villages in central Japan. The focus was initially on 'semantic architecture' (non- or pre-domestic fibroconstructive buildings) and its territorio-socio-semantic functions. One of the most important results of this study: it shows that the ritual core of rural Shinto is basically a system of cyclic renewal of territorial demarcation (see 'Architectural Anthropology' in our website ->Whats new?). There are strong indicators that the early imperial state in Japan in the 8th century (Taika reform) was built up on these rural cult traditions (see 'Shin no mihashira' in our website).

Very similar results are found also in post-mythical schools of Egyptology, particularly with Hermann Kees (der Gštterglaube im Alten Aegypten, 1956). He explained the formation of the imperial level in Ancient Egypt (Ancient, Middle and New Kingdoms) on the development and hierarchical organisation of village-, district- and imperial cults (Orts- Gau- und Reichsgštterkulte) in which physically represented deities and their temples had strong territorio- socio-semantic functions.

Note that this territorial component appears also in the Hebrew religion, if one reads the Ancient Testament dominantly from its constitutional aspects (Mose as state founder). And, finally, Christianity too had strong territorio- constitutional implications for instance when, in 391 it became Roman state religion in the final 80 years of the Western Roman empire (basic: 325 Nicaenum/ Identity dispute), which explains the strange mixture of Christ's humanism and the highly centralised power of an oriental theocracy erected on the ruins of imperial Rome. And, last but not least, European scholasticism too can be put into this line of a theocratic territorio-constitutional continuity: Neoplatonism was used to construct a supra-imperial constitution against the Franconians and their successors (struggle for universals ['Universalienstreit'] and struggle of investiture ['Investiturstreit'].

In other words, 'territoriality' can be seen as a basic component in most of what the humanities call 'culture' if one relates it to what we call 'nuclear demarcation', a basic term in 'architecture and habitat' anthropology. Following O. F. Bollnow's anthropology of space per-/conception we can reconstruct the origins of vertical and horizontal 'cosmological' axial systems generated by 'nuclear demarcation' in traditional or early settlements and thus provide an anthropological 'infrastructure' for instance to Eliade's historical axiality (axis mundi). Since 'nuclear demarcation' appears paired with the highest ontological values presumably in all cultures, it is evident that this might be a new anthropological acces to culture. It would evolve along the physical and social instruments it develops to control space, territoriality being an important component of this evolutionary phaseology from small to big.

Best wishes for your work!

Nold Egenter

P.S.: O. F. Bollnow's 'Man and Space' (Mensch und Raum 1963) may also be recommended for reading (Bollnow: Review in our website).

See our INTERNET-Homepage:

Nold Egenter
DOFSBT, Chorgasse 19
CH-8001 Zuerich, Switzerland
Tel.: +41-1-2516075
Fx: +41-21-3231707
e-mail: negenter@worldcom.ch

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