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On Borders – Territories, Legitimacy, and the Rights of Place - Oxford Scholarship Online
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On Borders: Territories, Legitimacy, and the Rights of Place

Paulina Ochoa Espejo


When are borders justified? Who has a right to control them? Where should they be drawn? People today think of borders as an island’s shores. Just as beaches delimit a castaway’s realm, so borders define the edge of a territory occupied by a unified people, to whom the land legitimately belongs. Hence a territory is legitimate only if it belongs to a people unified by civic identity. Sadly, this Desert Island Model of territorial politics forces us to choose. If a country seeks to have a legitimate territory, it can either have democratic legitimacy or inclusion of different civic identities—b ... More

Keywords: border, democracy, territory, Desert Island Model, Watershed Model, territorial rights, boundary problem, border wall, natural resources, border control

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2020 Print ISBN-13: 9780190074197
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2020 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190074197.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Paulina Ochoa Espejo, author
Associate Professor of Political Science, Haverford College

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Part I Taking Identity Too Seriously: Against the Desert Island Model of Territorial Politics

Part II Taking Place Seriously: For the Watershed Model of Territorial Politics

Part III The Morality of Border Politics in the Real World: Applying the Watershed Model

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