The Production of Space Through Land Reclamation
This dissertation argues that land reclamation has become geopolitical. Land reclamation has added a new dimension to international relations and this dimension cannot be ignored, for it touches upon our fundamental understanding of state territory and spatial practice. Drawing on Stuart Elden and Henri Lefebvre, territory is understood as a set of political technologies that produce different dimensions of our modern conception of territorial space. Land reclamation operates as such a territorial technology and alters our understanding of maritime space in contemporary geopolitics and international law. Two case studies will explicate this development. The first study will investigate coastal reclamation in Singapore and its effects for the city-state’s international relations. The second study will analyse Chinese reclamation works in the disputed region of the South China Sea. Both investigations will approach these activities with a focus on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as the international juridical space of territory. In conclusion, this dissertation claims that the material and conceptual production of space triggered by advancements in land reclamation technology are reshaping territorial state practice and the corresponding legal framework of maritime space.