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Kees Terlouw

Regional identities are inseparable from other identity discourses and the power relations which drive these discourses. Regional identities are linked to wider debates on sometimes competing and sometimes complementary spatial identity discourses. This chapter focuses on the different ways in which regional identity discourses are linked to discourses on local and national identities. Their diversity shows the changing and disputed nature of regional identity discourses. When circumstances change, regional identity discourses and the support for them can also change. Also, the borders, character, and positive or negative associations with others – both horizontally and vertically – are subject to different and changeable interpretations by different actors. This chapter discusses a wide variety of regional identity discourses of both well-established and newer regions which are linked in positive or negative ways to other spatial identity discourses.

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Robert Huggins and Piers Thompson

A perennial question in the field of regional studies is why some places are better able to foster innovation and economic growth than others. In order to better understand the deeper and less transparent drivers of regional development, this chapter examines the behavioural and institutional determinants of the innovation and growth capability and capacity of regions. From the institutional perspective, regions are portrayed as growth systems whereby the availability of a range of capital forms and the quality of institutions play a key role in promoting innovation and growth. Alongside this, it argued that regional innovation and growth is contingent upon two key behavioural traits, namely: socio-spatial culture; and personality psychology. It is concluded that through the prevailing forms of culture, personality psychology and institutions, regions produce a spatially bounded rationality that determines the nature of local human agency, and subsequently the rate of innovation and growth.

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J. Miguel Kanai and Seth Schindler

For decades, an epistemological divide split regional research from urban studies. This chapter argues that a re-discovery of regions has been taking place in urban research. This has been motivated by the field’s attempts to grapple with globalization, and with the emergence of new urbanization processes at the world scale. In a first wave of regionally attuned urban studies, concepts such as the ‘city-region’, ‘extensive urbanization’, and the ‘urbanization of the world’ were advanced to show that insofar as economic globalization can be characterized by the proliferation of flows and distantiated relations, the global economy also depends on urban(-regional) agglomeration. Furthermore, the global age features not only the most populous and extensive human settlements ever known to humanity but also emerging ‘megaregions’ with an extensive yet discontinuous urban base whose intricacies and geographical complexity defy purely urban or regional accounts and approaches. These territorial units concentrate power and wealth while also encapsulating systemic inequalities and exclusions. Amid further debates on urbanization as an integrated yet highly uneven process worldwide, a second wave of urban/regional thought can be found in the revival of comparative urban studies. Inspired by post-colonial theory, this agenda urges the field of global urban research to move beyond Eurocentric parochialism and to take account of the world of cities in its entirety. In other words, the agenda demands that regional worlds of urbanism be taken seriously, arguing that the field cannot do without the experiences and knowledge from urban locations beyond the selective map of world-class or global cities.

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Rhys Jones

In this chapter, I examine the connections between regions and cultural representation. My overall aim is to demonstrate the tensions that can exist between more cultural, and more economic or political forms of regionalism. Drawing on ongoing fieldwork conducted within the region of Wales in the UK, I problematise the conception of cultural regionalism and show that it is far from being a unitary or homogeneous thing, with many different cultural regions existing or being promoted. I contend that the relationship between politically or territorially defined regions and more culturally defined regions is complex. They are, undoubtedly, sometimes in conflict with one another but, at certain times, they can complement and reinforce one another. I conclude the chapter by discussing some of the potential challenges facing cultural regions and potential ways of addressing them.

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Allan Cochrane

It is easy to slip into ways of thinking that naturalise or reify regions as taken for granted economic or political entities, each with its own distinct and distinctive defining identity. Here, by contrast, the emphasis is on exploring the implications of acknowledging that regions can only be understood in relational terms. There is not some overarching set of concepts capable of defining regions in some holistic and definitive fashion for everywhere and always. The challenge is to explore the uneasy sets of relationships that make up and come to define actually existing regions, rather than seeking to uncover some underlying lattice of regional forms. Focusing on the apparent dichotomy between territory and regions is ultimately unhelpful. Instead it is necessary to distinguish between the role of institutionally (or territorially) defined regions as spaces of government and governance, and the processes by which such spaces are made up in practice.

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Kevin Cox

Interest in geography in scale and territory has waxed and waned. Classical geopolitics was an early expression but with the implosion of the first globalization interest retreated only to revive with the advent of the second. This was expressed through a vocabulary of territorial hierarchy that then attracted critical opprobrium, partly as a form of power-knowledge, partly on empirical grounds. But abstraction from social relations meant a failure to recognize the internal nature of scalar relations. The social relations in question are capitalist. Through its socialization of production capitalism necessarily produces scales as so many spheres of complementary regulation: cities regulate different things from countries, but they are both complementary and contradictory. Scalar arrangements get contested as those favored in their accumulation projects by regulation at one scale, seek to create consistent arrangements at other scales with the result that scales internalize one another; the more global internalize the more local and vice versa.

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Dmitrii Kofanov, Anton Shirikov and Yoshiko M. Herrera

Scholars of Eurasian post-communist space have long struggled in finding an appropriate name for this region. This naming issue is, however, only a reflection of a more fundamental question: how much do these countries have in common? In this chapter, we consider the conceptualization of regional units and sovereignty in Eurasia on the supranational, national, and subnational level, the origins of these territorial concepts, and the institutions that follow from different concepts of sovereignty. Our analysis shows that regionalism in post-Soviet Eurasia has been marked by a range of sovereignty claims, movements and settlements, and to a great extent shaped by imagined geographies that divide space along civilizational lines and combine malleability with deep historical roots. The European idea, which found its embodiment in the European Union, turned out to be the most potent of those, while the development of other Eurasian supranational institutions remains a work in progress.

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David Gibbs

Concerns over issues such as climate change and sea level rise have become a major driver for international, national and local policy responses. From an initial focus on sustainable development from the late 1980s to attempts to restrict carbon emissions and limit global temperature rise in the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change, these have in common the need to address the detrimental impacts of economic development. There is a longstanding argument that these problems are best addressed at the local and regional scale. This chapter initially explores the context for, and interpretations of such sustainable regions. It examines the rise of green economy approaches at the regional scale and the geography of the green economy, drawing on socio-technical transitions theory to investigate the concept of transition regions. The chapter concludes by briefly outlining critiques of the dominant green economy approaches and the need to develop further research into alternative approaches.

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Cara Nine

Philosophers ask how a territorial right – exclusive control over a vast space full of valuable resources – could ever be justified. This chapter presents a set of universal values: justice in meeting basic needs, desert, efficiency, and autonomy. Because everybody has a reason to value these principles, then everybody has a reason to believe that territorial rights are, in principle, justified, even though they may exclude outsiders from an immense territory. Territorial rights are justified as a system of international rights, when this system creates more political justice than alternatives. Particular territorial rights are justified when self-determining collectives demonstrate the capacity to use the geographical domain and its resources to rule themselves justly. These values are best realized in a system of territorial rights where collectives can exercise political jurisdictional authority over their territory in perpetuity.

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John Loughlin

Unlike other animals, humans have the capacity to reflect on the meaning of territory and to change it in accordance with the changing circumstances in which they find themselves. The sources of the modern understanding of territory are rooted in ancient mythological and religious understandings of the earth and of human beings' place in it. This, in turn, affected the ways in which they understood the governance of territory. This developed from primitive tribal ideas to great empires such as the Roman Empire. In the West, the Roman Empire was succeeded by feudalism, complex church–state relations, and eventually the arrival of the modern nation-state and the post-war welfare state. Regions became subordinate to national governments, but this changed with the European Union and then with neoliberal globalisation. Regions became, to some extent free from national control, although this is now changing following the 2007/8 financial crisis and the crisis of the European project itself.