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Synaptic Spaces of Europe: A Challenge for Spatial Planning
Social Sciences
Volume 3, Issue 4-1, July 2014, Pages: 46-56
Received: May 16, 2014; Accepted: May 21, 2014; Published: Jun. 14, 2014
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Cecilia Scoppetta, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy
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On the background of contemporary rescaling process and of the current broad rethinking of some relevant concepts – such as “region”, “territory”, “locality”, and “space” – the case of the Baltic Sea Macro-Region, and of the related place-based EU successful «experimentalist» strategies highlights the emerging of «soft spaces» as new forms of territorial organisations. These clearly appear as a result of EU “soft” (“lateral”) territorial approach outlining a really innovative multileveled spatial pattern. By using a biological metaphor these soft spaces may be intended as «synaptic spaces» clearly claiming for a radical shift in planning approaches, by moving towards soft and synaptic planning practices involving «’soft process’ of negotiation and learning». Features of these spatial configurations drawing new continental geographies are explored by highlighting the role both of images/imaginaries and historical/geographical/cultural roots, to be used (re-interpreted) in the de-construction/re-construction of the contemporary European spatiality. In this sense, we may say that, according to Faludi «geography still matters» (and also history!). In fact, Baltic Sea cooperative networks (that is: the basis of the new EU strategy) can be seen as a return to what once was an important communication channel for thousand of years and flourishing trade in the region. The model is that of the Hanse League, based on flexible not hierarchical (mainly economic) «weak ties» – or «loose coupling» – among autonomous cities (but not exclusively), which share a transnational unbounded Hanseatic “space” (not “territory”) and which are periodically (not always) able to act as a collective actor to achieve local collective competition goods avoiding the «trap of joint decision». It remains to be seen whether such a strategy – which has proved successful in the Baltic area – will be so effectively applied to other specific spatial and cultural contexts (with their differences in challenges and potentials), such as the Danube corridor, or to the much more “explosive” Mediterranean basin.
Spatial-Political Rescaling, EU Macro-Regional Strategies, Images, Networks
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Cecilia Scoppetta, Synaptic Spaces of Europe: A Challenge for Spatial Planning, Social Sciences. Special Issue: Geographical Evidence in Changing Europe. Vol. 3, No. 4-1, 2014, pp. 46-56. doi: 10.11648/
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