Sungeun Kim, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST); Chihyung Jeon, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST);
We have never studied the Earth, but only territories. This panel proposes a new concept of "territorial science" to better examine the fundamental entanglement of geoscience and geopolitics. We define territorial science as state-funded technoscience of measuring, monitoring, modeling, and maintaining the nature through which a political community defines its physical extent and exerts power over it. With territorial science, states transform unruly nature into governable territories. It is a critical apparatus for modern states to declare geographical boundaries, claim exclusive rights, and generate territorial imaginaries. Here, we regard territory as land, air, ocean, outer space, or any other natural space subject to the state's calculation. Thus, territorial science comprises a broad range of geoscience, including meteorology, geology, and oceanography, and a set of technical practices and infrastructure involved in those geosciences. Compared with more value-neutral concepts like earth science, environmental science, and field science, our use of territorial science aims to foreground the geopolitical relations that shape our interactions with natural spaces. The examples of territorial science include, but are not limited to:
- Scientific exploration for territorial claim (e.g., research stations in Antarctica)
- Geoscience as colonial domination (e.g., imperial observatories and cartography)
- Environmental science as diplomatic practice (e.g., monitoring of transboundary air pollution)
- Government-led mapping for territory utilization (e.g., geophysical surveys and simulations to site nuclear facilities)
STS scholars working on territorial sciences in various geo-politico-scientific contexts are invited to this panel to develop together a new framework for understanding the science-state-earth relationship.