I am grateful to Thomas J. Donahue, Casiano Hacker-Cordón, Anna Jurkevics, Matthew Longo, Jason Frank, Avery Kolers, Hélène Landemore, Claudio López-Guerra, Andrew March, Karuna Mantena, Sofia Näsström, Shmuel Nili, Sarah Song, Anna Stilz, Daniel Viehoff, and several anonymous referees for conversations and comments on previous versions of this essay. I am also grateful to the participants at the Yale Political Theory Workshop, to participants at the 2011 ECPR joint session on “The People,” St. Gallen, Switzerland, and to John McCormick, Kevin Olson, and Ayelet Shachar: the intended participants of a panel on “People and Territory” at the cancelled 2012 APSA meeting in New Orleans.
People, Territory, and Legitimacy in Democratic States
Article first published online: 8 OCT 2013
©2013, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 58, Issue 2, pages 466–478, April 2014
How to Cite
Espejo, P. O. (2014), People, Territory, and Legitimacy in Democratic States. American Journal of Political Science, 58: 466–478. doi: 10.1111/ajps.12064
- Issue published online: 2 APR 2014
- Article first published online: 8 OCT 2013
Who are the people who should govern themselves in a democracy? This is the famous boundary problem to which this article offers a new approach. Most democrats, even nationalists and cosmopolitans, delimit the demos by relying on territorial jurisdictions. However, territory is not explicit in their arguments. This article urges democrats to recognize territory's normative importance rather than overlook the role it already plays in their theories. Acknowledging territory is a risky, yet promising, strategy. Risky, because it may lead to a vicious circle: one needs well-defined territorial borders to delimit the people, yet one needs a well-defined people to establish legitimate territorial borders. Promising, because it forces democrats to scrutinize implicit assumptions and find new resources for dealing with the vicious circle. The article describes four possible tacks by which theorists could navigate the waters of people, territory, and legitimacy in democracies: asserting, circumventing, solving, and dissolving the circle.