Territories and Zones

Thousands of books and articles have been written about the staking out and guarding of territories by animals, birds, fish and primates, but only in recent years has it been discovered that man also has territories. When this is learned and the implications understood, not only can enormous insights into one's own behaviour and that of others be gained but the face-to-face reactions of others can be predicted. American anthropologist Edward T. Hall was one of the pioneers in the study of man's spatial needs and in the early 1960s he coined the word 'proxemics' (from 'proximity' or nearness). His research into this field has led to new understanding about our relationships with our fellow humans.

Every country is a territory staked out by clearly defined boundaries and sometimes protected by armed guards. Within each country are usually smaller territories in the form of states and counties. Within these are even smaller territories called cities, within which are suburbs, containing many streets that, in themselves, represent a closed territory to those who live there. The inhabitants of each territory share an intangible allegiance to it and have been known to turn to savagery and killing in order to protect it.

A territory is also an area or space that a person claims as his own, as if it were an extension of his body. Each person has his own personal territory which includes the area that exists around his possessions, such as his home which is bounded by fences, the inside of his motor vehicle, his own bedroom or personal chair and, as Dr Hall discovered, a defined air space around his body.

This chapter will deal mainly with the implications of this air space and how people react when it is invaded.

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