‘Globalization marks daily life, of which this audience needs no reminder. On one hand, the title ‘The Poverty of Territorialism’ rings in synch with globalism, yet on the other, its subtitle ‘A Neo-Medieval View’ seems out of step.’

The above quote is from the recent review of my book by Michael Neuman (2019) of the University of Westminster. It starts and ends with this, what he calls a riddle. Quoting other literature, he points out -quite rightly – that the claim of the ‘poverty’ of territorialism is not new. But according to him linking it to spatial planning, and more in particular to European spatial planning is. They need to be remade to better fit an interdependent world. I could not have said it any more clearly.

The riddle which this poses, Neuman says, I seek ‘…to resolve with coalitions of overlapping functional (sectoral) and territorial agencies. While it may reflect actual complexities and interdependencies, ‘fuzzy’ governance and planning do not suffice. It is unfathomably messy, particularly at the European scale. Rather than ordering, as governing must, it points to chaos…’ Which is why Neuman ends his review by saying that ‘…spatial planning and governing without territoriality is as yet a bridge too far even as cross it’d we must, as Faludi believes. This farsighted book takes us to the gate.’

How to open it? I think that we need to look at is what I call – and Neuman quotes me on this – the production of democratic legitimacy: invariably by territories defined by their borders. But as Popescu (2012, 153) says, as the functions of borders change, the configurations of territories, too, have to be de- and reterritotialised. If so, then the de- and reterritorialisation of how we ‘do’ democracy, too, figures prominently on the agenda of reform: no longer by districts, precincts, cities, regions and national territories! But, then, how?.


Neuman, M. (2019) The poverty of territorialism: neo-medieval view of Europe and European planning, European Planning Studies, DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2019.1694240. See also this PAGE.

Popescu, G. (2012) Bordering and Ordering in the Twenty-first Century: Understanding Borders, Rowman  Littlefield, Lanham – Boulder – New York – Toronto – Plymoth UK.

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