At the Annual Congress of the Association of European Schools of Planning AESOP (Venice, 9 – 13 July, 2019), Giancarlo Cotella (Politecnico di Torino) convened a Round Table on my book. I briefly defined (state) territorialism, making the case for and against, including the part it has in the EU crisis. With Jan Zielonka (2014) I juxtaposed a ‘neo-medieval’ EU to the ‘ever closer Union’ often equated with a super-state. Rather than states filling European space to the rim, I offered three alternatives: states as islands in an archipelago (as per the cover of my book); states as, by their nature unstable ice floats; states floating in a cloud of EU institutions. Each puts paid to claims to the primordial right of states to their sovereignty. But I admitted to the production of democratic legitimacy and also practicing spatial planning being problematic under neo-medievalism.

The participants were Jonathan Metzger (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm), Eva Purkarthofer (Aalto University, Helsinki), Dominic Stead (Delft Technical University) and Oliver Sykes (Liverpool University). Jonathan pointed out that the book leaves issues concerning the relation between planning, democracy and equality unanswered. He identified contemporary capitalism as the Elephant. Eva pointed out that, uniquely among academic books, the author’s – mine – life story was interwoven with the argument offered. She pointed out the parallels with a growing interest in the phenomenon of multi-locality. Dominic focused on the concept of meta-governance in the book, drawing parallels with recent literature striking a positive note about the possibility of planners exerting their influence through designing networks. Inspired by a visual which I used in my presentation showing a fish trap symbolising territorialism, Olivier drew parallels with Brexit which he thought paradoxical in a UK harbouring English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish nations.

There was also participation from the audience. As an impromptu survey unsurprisingly showed, it was itself witness to the academic planning community being transnational and trans-territorial. But Olivier was quick to point out that in this we were not unique. As he recognised my book also shows, these are features applying in equal measure to the growing number of iterant workers and migrants of all denominations.

Zielonka, J. (2014) Is the EU Doomed? Polity Press, Cambridge.

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