Territory as a physical condition: the case of non-regulatory housing in Tangier [Abstract]

Political theory lacks a sense of territory; territory lacks a political theory. Although a central term within political geography and international relations, the concept of territory has been under-examined".[1]

The extent of some contemporary urban phenomena defies fixed conceptions of territory: urbanity appears to constantly surpass boundaries, and this fragility of definitions evidences the need to understand events at a larger - territorial - scale. Territorial in this sense calls for a concrete reading of a particular condition rather than an explanation of its constituents, something closer to an immanent than an external influence. Despite the evident relevance of political, economic and cultural analysis, territory has a physical component that is a concrete manifestation of itself and hence more suitable for examination.

An interesting terrain of analysis is the situation that marginal territories present, territories which have not yet been effectively incorporated to the urban realm, and can then be better observed through their material reality. Phenomena such as the spread of housing in the city of Tangier (an example of what occurs in many other North African and Moroccan urban centres) allow us to read territory taking into consideration not only the traditional administrative and political aspects (and scales) but also the mechanisms and logics of production of territory that are made possible within specific physical contexts. The case of margin territories in Tangier allows us to read both the political and economic driven mechanisms through their direct relationship to land conditions. This text will attempt to demonstrate the importance of looking back at territory through its material manifestations.

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