Chapter 7 Brave new ‘megaregional worlds’? Reflections from a North European perspective
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How can the established concept of ‘Norden’ – which covers the Northern European countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – be understood in a brave new world of megaregions? The significance of Norden, which literary means ‘the North’, is often acknowledged to be a ‘stabilised’ transnational (mega) region (Gustafsson, 2006). This is due, in part, to the Nordic countries sharing a number of cultural and historical commonalities, somewhat similar political trajectories through the 20th century and a well-known welfare state tradition. Yet, on closer inspection, we have seen in recent years various diverging development paths in territorial policy and politics in general, and urban and regional planning in particular. Furthermore, when adopting a relational perspective, we can detect how a number of Nordic city-regions are being formed and transformed – through transnational (business) networks and various related state spatial strategies – with the aim being to strategically place them as nodes within the global space of flows. What this amounts to is a more fluid geographical image of Norden. Against this backdrop the concept of Norden is an interesting example of how (mega) regions are being constructed through particular sets of relations, processes and mechanisms, while at the same time being challenged and deconstructed by other sets of relations, processes and mechanisms. In this chapter, we seek to problematize these happenings, providing critical reflections from a North European perspective. The research presented derives from a range of studies and observations produced by Nordregio – The Nordic Centre for Spatial Development.

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