Territorial conflicts are among the most contentious and difficult to resolve in international politics. Territorial conflict is also found to be one of the most frequent causes of intrastate violence and civil war onset. At a theoretical level, territory is central to almost any aspect of international relations, as it is what physically defines states, where any kind of violent conflict takes place, and influences the character of violent conflict in important ways. A large empirical literature convincingly shows that territory is a key determinant of international conflict. However, much remains unexplored both theoretically and empirically.
In this course, we explore the role that territory plays in a wide variety of contexts. We motivate the course by noting that although territory has been shown to be empirically central to the majority of violent disputes, explanations for why this is the case lag behind the evidence. Subsequently, we study the role territory plays in state-making, international conflict, the settlement of disputes, international trade, international investment, the effectiveness of treaties, ethnic identity, and civil wars, among others. Week by week we pay particular attention to the central theoretical role territory plays in international relations. We will put particular emphasis on thinking about how territory relates to bargaining models of conflict.