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Dramatizing sovereignty: the construction of territorial dispute in the Israeli–Egyptian border at Taba

Authors
Journal
Political Geography
0962-6298
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
19
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0962-6298(99)00078-5
Keywords
  • Sovereignty
  • Boundaries
  • Territorial Dispute
  • Status Politics
  • Constructivism
  • Neo-Institutionalism
Disciplines
  • Political Science

Abstract

Abstract Inter-state territorial conflicts are highly instructive of the complex nature of the concept of sovereignty and its modes of social construction in a world where the politicization of territory has become a highly institutionalized practice. However, more often than not, these conflicts revolve around tiny pieces of land lacking any ostensible value for both partners, thus calling into question the applicability of rational action assumptions in international relations. The dispute between Egypt and Israel all through the eighties over 1 km 2 of desert called Taba, just after both states signed a peace agreement and Israel restored to Egyptian sovereignty over 60,000 km 2 of land, is such an example. Drawing on constructivist and neo-institutionalist approaches that treat sovereignty as a social construct, we argue through the case of Taba that the dramatization of sovereignty and the status politics that motivate it, carried out by state and non-state actors in three different but interrelated arenas: the domestic, the regional and the international, are decisive factors in the constitution of sovereignty.

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