Research Seminar Series (RSS)
Regions as (more or less bounded) processes: Discussing sub- and supranational (re)regionalization in Northern Europe
with Kaj Zimmerbauer (University of Oulu)
Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)
Maison des Sciences Humaines
11, Porte des Sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette / Belval
LISER Conference Room, MSH 1st floor
11:00 am
12:30 pm
For inquiries:

My aim is to discuss regionalization and re-regionalization processes from several angles, focusing on both supranational and sub-national regions. First, I discuss how the contemporary planning paradigm contributes to the process that has been labeled as the “softening of hard spaces”. This means that typically old, well-established spaces with relatively hard (administrative) borders become redefined and treated in planning practice as increasingly soft ones, having fuzzier or at least more porous borders. Second, I discuss how, at the same time, new soft spaces – such as gateways, newly conceived cross-border supranational spaces and other ad hoc regional spaces – become hardened through deepening institutional practices and discourses, and because of the often-emerging requirements to define what is included and excluded in spatial co-operation. These spatial transformations are then contextualized through empirical cases and connected to the ideas of relational and territorial spaces as well as to different ‘forms’ of regionalisms. Moving to another, yet related research ‘track’, I then focus on supranational co-operation, and using the Barents Euro-Arctic region as an example, I discuss how geoeconomization (instead of geopolitics) has been recently emphasized in supranational ‘region-work’. Relatedly, I seek to present some notions on territory-network interplay in regionalization process, and in particular how the interplay resonates with the shifts from geopolitics to geoeconomics (and possibly back again). From there, the track proceeds to the idea of applying game theory to the study of crossborder co-operation. In this, the understanding of co-operation is determined by perhaps its most fundamental paradox: simultaneous claims for competition and co-operation. While paradox is conceptualized as a situation where contradictory or even mutually exclusive elements are simultaneously present, game theory is approached as a model to study and explain people’s behavior when they face a social dilemma or paradox.

Kaj Zimmerbauer is senior research fellow and scientific coordinator in the RELATE (The Relational and Territorial Politics of Bordering, Identities and Transnationalization) Centre of Excellence (Academy of Finland) at the University of Oulu, Finland. His research topics include supranationalism and supranational region-building, regional/territorial identities, and territory network interplay. His most recent publications discuss the deconstruction of borders and manifestations of identities as well as different understandings and conceptualizations of spaces and regions in planning practices. He has also done extensive research on the Barents region in northernmost Europe, focusing on geopolitics and geoeconomics in cross-border regionalization processes as implemented by both nation states and sub-national regions. He has published, for example, in Regional Studies, Geoforum, European Planning Studies and the International Journal of Urban and Regional Studies.

Light lunch provided for registered participants; please register by December 6, 10:00 a.m. (registration link below seminar title)

Supported by the National Research Fund (FNR/RESCOM/18/12979972)