Regions between imposed structure and internally developed response. Experiences with twin track regionalisation in post-socialist Eastern Germany

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Herrschel, Tassilo

This paper investigates the dual nature of regionalisation between imposed institutionalised territoriality and self-made 'ad hoc' collaborative regional arrangements between localities. This involves, as the paper sets out to show, different, but concurrent imagineerings of 'regions' to two audiences – within and without a defined region. They are applied to the same territory, albeit with different images and sets of actors for internal (local) and external (national/international) consumption. These developments are examined within the context of the 'new regionalism' debate, in particular the notion of a replacement of old' through 'new' regionalism as a sequence. This duality of region making challenges the frequently somewhat simplistic presumption of regions forming as one complete entity, ‘out there’ to compete on a global market. They also have to fight for their recognition internally, but with different arguments, rationales and policies. This means that the possibility of overlapping single purpose ad hoc formed regions, as postulated under the new regionalism, needs to take into account the likelihood of several meanings of one and the same territory. The examples demonstrate that the two possibilities overlap – multi-territoriality and multi-meanings of (new) regionalism. The paper uses the example of post-unification eastern Germany, where in 1990 a completely new set of traditional regions was established, implementing a 1960s-derived western German model. Since this common starting point, strong economic, cultural and geographic differences have emerged, leading not only to policy adjustments, but also changes to the understanding of regionalisation and regional policy, and the actors involved.
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