A New Collection of Blogposts by Andreas Faludi

The Poverty of Territorialism

Introduction: If only I had seen this before!

Publishing the ‘Book of Blogs” (see the link  on this page), coupled with technical issues concerning the renewal of the website of Urbanism has meant a hiatus in publishing more. Not that there has been nothing to comment upon! The dramatic situation in, and of, Ukraine has drawn my attention. On this, there is of course plenty to say. Indeed, plenty is being said. My only regret is that not all of this has come to my attention earlier. Hence the title of the series which follows.

Being myself, I have been  focussing on where and how we see territorialism – and also its twin populism – in action. Sometimes, they are of course more implicit than explicit.

Understanding the present, especially where Central and Eastern Europe is concerned, requires  understanding the past – which is where my amateurish concern for history comes in.

So, expect a barrage of blogs which have accumulated over the past months, most of them with a focus on Ukraine in its wider context.




This new collection of blogs includes the following posts (and original date of publication):

  • Blog 1: Urgent matters with no solution in sight (November 18th, 2021)
  • Blog 2. Poland again (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 3. The Peace of Riga (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 4. A Ukrainian Hero? (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 5. Ukrainian historian on alleged Nazi sympathies (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 6. Passportisation (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 7. Bailbar on Ukrainian War (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 8. Étienne Balibar Taking a Stand (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 9. The Red Prince (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 10. Beck and Grande on Cosmopolitanism (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 11. Ukrainian Persistence (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 12. The downsides of globalisation and how to deal with them (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 13. Advice from ESPON (October 14th, 2022)
  • Blog 14. Territorialism – Sovereignism – Populism (November 15th, 2022)
  • Blog 15. Territorialism and Spatial Justice (November 15th, 2022)
  • Blog 16. Territorialism – Sovereignism – Populism II (December 21st, 2022)
  • Blog 17. On Poltava (January 4th, 2023)
  • Blog 18. Spectacularly wrong! (January 12th, 2023)
  • Blog 19. Non citizens in the Baltics (January 17th, 2023)
  • Blog 20. Territorialism in the crosshairs (January 30th, 2023)
  • Blog 21. Chipping Away on Territorialism (February 3rd, 2023)
  • Blog 22. Not yet a plan (February 20th, 2023)
  • Epilogue



Blog 1: Urgent matters with no solution in sight

November 18th, 2021


Caroline de Gruyter (2021) discusses the crisis at the Polish-Belorussian border casting doubt on the EU’s ability to react. (Coincidentally, BBC World Service shows a migrant caravan moving through Mexico, leaving the US administration perhaps equally baffled.)

I, too, am confused. Do we need to strengthen territorialism, otherwise my bête noir? And what to say about Polish police aiming water cannons and tear gas at stone-throwing refugees — or had I better say migrants? The distinction matters! Anyhow, unusually, I find myself in agreement with French right-wing leader Marie le Pen saying that we are facing ‘…a Europe which is besieged by migrants used as a migration weapon.’[1] How to deal with this?

Clearly, world-wide networks are of growing import. De Gruyter gives the link to Farrell and Newman (2019). They do not discuss refugee flows nor their manipulation. Recall for instance Morocco ‘punishing’ Spain for giving hospital access to a representative of the Western Sahara by temporarily turning a blind eye on refugees invading Spanish Ceuta on the North African coast.[2] Such cases make us appreciate that flows on which states have purchase allow them to weaponise interdependence. SWIFT makes it for instance possible for the US to cut off Iran from international financial flows, creating a ‘chokepoint effect’. The structure of interdependence, more in particular how networks ‘….intersect with domestic institutions and norms to shape coercive authority…‘ demands attention, amongst others for putting the liberal order into question. What is more, ‘…states with political authority over the central nodes in the international networked structures (…) are uniquely positioned to impose costs on others.‘ The consequence is interactions generating ‘…new structural conditions of power…’ Importantly, network topography shapes relations: If, for instance, Belarus did not share a border with the EU, it could not exert the same pressure.

Now, our two authors are talking about networks that require heavy investments in hard and soft infrastructure. The issue that has blown up into our faces is different, but there are also similarities. The Polish-Belarusian border has hardly been on the map of viewers, but making use of airlines and travel agencies enabled Belarus to create the choke point where the TV footage comes from.

Back to our two authors. They point out implications of interdependence for whoever has leverage over hubs and domestic institutions. Those implications can create new forms of state power, in the Belorussian case to attempt to hold the EU at ransom. Albeit briefly, the two authors deal with possible reactions: ’Targeted states … may attempt to isolate themselves from networks, look to turn network effects back on their more powerful adversaries, and even (…) reshape networks so as to minimize their vulnerabilities…’ Isolating oneself, like by building walls, amounts to strengthening territorialism. Turning network effects back — like imposing more sanctions on Belarus — depends on the short- and long-term vulnerability of the target. Reshaping networks requires understanding extant interrelations. Spatial planners are familiar with interrelations. It is their bread and butter, so to say. But they are rarely present on the scales where current issues play themselves out.



Farrell, H., Newman, A. L. (2019) International Security, ‘Weaponized interdependence: How global economic networks shape state coercion’, 44/1, 42-79.

Gruyter, C. (2021) De boel kan spectaculaire escaleren bij de Pools-Wit-Russische Grens’, NRC, 12 November. https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2021/11/12/de-boel-kan-spectaculair-escaleren-bij-de-pools-wit-russische-grens-a4065277

[1] The Capitals, 16 November 2021, quoting Clara Bauer-Babef on EURACTIV.fr.

[2] https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/morocco-the-apparent-winner-after-migrant-skirmish-with-spain/?utm_source=piano&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=9707&pnespid=0e1yo6ZYWFKNEY5vIC43KSG0CIor32W_9C5WutejdQ



Blog 2: Poland Again

October 14th, 2022


If  only I had seen this before, the end, and not just – as when I wrote ‘The Construction of Poland’ (see: ‘Chasing Territorialism’, Faludi 2022) – the beginning of  Tymothy Snyder (2003) on ‘The Reconstruction of Nations’. Predating his rightly famous ‘Bloodlands’ (Snyder 2010) this book was written in a mood reflecting, albeit guarded optimism about Russia: Vladimir Putin had been on a visit to Warsaw in 2002 and, apparently, opposition to NATO enlargement including, Poland was not yet the hot issue for him it has become now. In fact, there were dreams, not only of Ukraine, but also Russia joining, if not NATO, then at least the EU in the 2040s.

Finishing the book has given me answers to the puzzle of how, given the history of their past antagonism (which Snyder describes in its gory details) Poland has become the staunch supporter of Ukraine in her present predicament. He ascribes this to attitude changes, prepared by elements of the Polish diaspora during the vaining days of the Communist regime. I mean the intention, if not to bury the past, then at least to renounce all claims to restoring Poland’s, and indeed anybody else‘s pre-war borders. Which in the Polish case also implied rejecting claims by ethnic Poles remaining outside to be reunified with their motherland. Not only that, Poland would never again insist on its (small) ethnic minorities – Ukrainians in particular – to leave the country. Immediately after the war, such ethnic cleansing had been the practice throughout Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine.

Instead, the message was that, within their settled borders, all neighbours should adhere to ‘European standards’. This with a view to all (and above all Poland herself) intenton joining the EU. Which of course in 2005 she and, as the only one of the other East European states previously involved in practices which this settlement should bring to an end, Lithuania did. The prospect for Belarus, let alone Russia doing so has of course disappeared. At the same time, as has come to our attention forcefully, Ukraine is pursuing the European dream with a vengeance.
What more does this say about Poland now? That, like apparently other former Soviet satellites, she is insisting on being left to live up to European standards as she understands them.  So, the ethno-nationalist Dmowski has won, and Piłsudski’s dream of a multi-ethnic commonwealth – one that might double for a model of the EU – has dissipated.



Faludi, A., (2022; editor: R. Rocco) Chasing Territorialism,  Delft University of Technology. (Available at: https://doi.org/10.34641/mg.41).

Snyder, Th. (2003) The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belorus 1569-1999. Yale University Press, New Haven NJ.

Snyder, Th. (2010) Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, Basic Books, New York, NY.



Blog 3: The Peace of Riga

October 14th, 2022


At Lviv, Ukrainians and Poles fighting over Austrian Galicia – Western Ukraine – are buried alongside American aviators perished while fighting the Soviets after the end of World War One. ’Europe: A History’ (Davies 1996) portrays our continent as a peninsula of Euroasia. An earlier work by the same author,  ‘Red Star – White Eagle’ (Davies 1972) gives more detail. Historical parallels are treacherous ground to walk, but Ukraine remains in the ‘Shatterzone’ (Barton, Weitz 2013; see also the blog ‘Ukrainian Persistence’).

Recall that, for about a year before the end of World War One, Germany and its allies occupied vast stretches of Western Russia including Ukraine outside Galicia which was Austrian. War’s end left the area and its occupants in limbo with a Poland reborn and the newly formed Soviet Union slugging it out over possession of what are now parts of Ukraine and Belarus.

Having won in what used to be Austrian Galicia against a short-lived Western Ukrainian People’s Repubic, the Poles advanced to Kiev. Soon, the Soviets evicted them, pursuing them in the hope of spreading the proletatian revolution. At the Battle of Warsaw, they lost, however. The 1921 Peace of Riga settled on a border beyond which the Soviets made no further forays. Defeating the remaining Whites, they rather built Socialism within their own country. Having reneged on the promis of world revolution, after Lenin passed away, its remaining advocates became the objects of show trials. This while Stalin rebuilt – and modernised! – Russia in its mutation as the Soviet Union. After winning in World War II he spread, not world revolution but Russian imperialism.

But remember: real empires do not rely on Iron Curtains; they create buffer zones. Releasing – on condition of her declaring neutrality – Austria from their grip (thereby signalling that German reunification, too, was in the realm of the possible) Stalin’s successors may have seen this as a realistic prospect, but Germany remained in NATO. Give-and-take forty years later, she was joined there by ex-Soviet satellites, Poland included.

Now, NATO, too, treats its external border as hard, threatening to defend each square inch of the common territory. So, with Ukraine a member, there would be less of a buffer zone separating NATO from Russia and its ally Belarus. Surely, the ‘Shatterzone’ would become more brittle.



Bartor, O., Weitz, E.D. (Eds) (2013) Shatterzone of Empires, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana.

Dennis, N. (1996) Europe: A History, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Dennis, N. (1972) White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish-Soviet War 1919-20 and ‘The Miracle on the Vistula’, Vintage Books, London.



Blog 4: A Ukrainian Hero?

October 14th, 2022


If  only I had seen this before: A glowing review of Kochanski (2022; see: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v44/n13) on World War II resistance movements mentions the Ukrayinska Povstanska Armiya (UPA: see also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_Insurgent_Army). Without getting at the bottom of it all, this made me realise that there are layers of truth (or untruth) hidden behind the war in Ukraine. Perhaps the most amazing news: the UPA was set up to oppose the Poles! Recall that after the Great War former Austrian Galicia became part of Eastern Poland. This until in 1939 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union – Hitler and Stalin – split Poland between them. The former Polish overlords in present Ukraine and Belorussia were persecuted (Gross 1988). Ukrainian nationalists participated, but the Soviets suppressed them in turn. When Hitler made war on the USSR in 1941, they thus hoped for German support to form what would undoubtedly have been a vassal state. But Hitler had no time for this and the UPA went underground. They controlled large swathes of the countryside, fighting against – but when opportune arose also with – the Nazi occupiers. Yes, they did murder Jews, but there were also Jews in their ranks. And they continued cleansing the country from Poles. Portrayed on a Ukrainian postage stamp, whether one of the leaders, Roman Shukhevych, did take part is a matter of dispute.

With the Soviets back, the UPA focused on them, with nobody less than Nikita Khrushchev (himself from Ukraine) responsible for suppressing their resistance. This bloody affair ended in 1949.

So, is Putin correct that his ‘special military operation’ is to cleanse Ukraine of Nazis? No, he is fighting against Ukrainian nationalists who, in their struggle against foreign occupiers – in the first instance the Poles and only then the Russians – have at occasions allied themselves with the enemies of their enemies.
In sum, what we see is a belated struggle in Ukraine for the creation of nations and national identities. Which is why, given their past antagonism, the generosity of the Poles towards Ukrainians is nothing but astounding.



Gross, J.T. (1988) Revolution From Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland’s Western Ukraine and Western Belorussian, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.

Kochanski, K. (2022) Resistance: The Underground War in Europe, 1939–1945. Penguin, London.



Blog 5: Ukrainian historian on alleged Nazi sympathies

October 14th, 2022


Whoever wishes to form an opinion on Putin’s avowed aim of purging Ukraine from Nazis might read Riabchuk (2010) writing at a time when the European Parliament complained against then Ukrainian President Yuchchenko naming one Stephan Bandera posthumously a ‘National Hero of Ukraine.’ The allegation was Bandera having had Nazi sympathies. But his real role has been in Ukraine’s struggle between – Riabchuk’s terms – ‘aboriginals’ and ‘settlers’ and their ‘creole’ supporters.

Before World War II, Bandera opposed, not Russian but Polish rule  at the time in Western Ukraine. Perhaps this is the reason why Polish MEPs supported the resolution mentioned above. But the 1939 Ribbentrop – Molotov Pact gave what was then Eastern Poland to a USSR proceeding to murder captured Polish officers. If not this, then at least chasing away their former Polish masters was popular with Ukrainians. Come 1941 and Germany attacked the Soviet Union, taking over Ukraine, amongst others. Which is when Bandera hoped to be able to have his state, obviously under German tutelage. If so, as other client states, it might very well have become involved in the Holocaust, but this is speculation: The Germans wanted, not another vassal state but to colonise (yet again: they did the same before the end of World War One) Europe’s bread basket. So, they packed Bandera away in a concentration camp. What remained of Bandera nationalists went underground, fighting the Germans and, upon their return, the Soviets.

Indeed, as in Poland and in Lithuania, until about the early 1950s, there seems to have been serious resistance against Soviet – Russian – rule. So, ‘Banderites’ became the synonym for any self-conscious, non-Russified and non-Sovietized Ukrainians, writes Riabchuk. Branding any resistance as Nazi, which, as with Monsignor Jozef Tiso in Slovakia and Ante Pavelić in Croatia, Banderites might have become, had the true Nazis accepted them as allies – is just shorthand for branding them as evil. But their eternal sin is not having being Nazis but continuing to be against Russian dominance.



Riabchuk, A. (2019) ‘Bandera’s controversy and Ukraine’s future’, Academy of Science of Ukraine, Nr. 1. Available at: http://www.russkiivopros.com/ruskii_vopros.php?pag=one&id=315&kat=9&csl=46



Blog 6: Passportisation

October 14th, 2022


Passportisation means not only Ukrainians getting Russian passports. No, there are precedents of offering nationality to citizens of countries near and far. Think of Hungary where the governing party owes its super majority to voters abroad. Romania, too, offers passports to Moldavians and Poland has insisted on being given leeway to grant access to residents living within 50 km from the border. So, already beforethe present wave of refugees, a million and a half Ukrainians have lived there before February 2022.

Now, if Putin were to be satisfied with the south and east of Ukraine, would Poland, Hungary and Romania squabble over the leftovers? (Sadakat Kadri 2022). Hungary and Romania could invoke historical grievances and in Poland an, albeit small group of nationalists wants Western Ukraine, part of Poland until 1939, back.

Christoph Mick (2022) throws more light on Polish-Ukrainian relations. He spares, neither Ukrainian nationalists murdering ethnic Poles during German occupation, nor Polish nationalists returning the favour. At the same time, neither the Polish-Lithuanian Empire, nor the subsequent Polish Republic before partition were ethno-nationalist. That was for the 19th-century to even think about. And, even when Poland was reborn, some hoped for a federation – albeit under Polish leadership – with its neighbours. But in fact Poland was a colonial power until 1939. Indeed, Stalin’s hate figure – the Polish landlord – rang true to Ukrainians.

Post-1990, Poles kept their distance from Ukrainians, but Mick ends on a positive notes: ‘Historically, people in the Polish-Ukrainian borderlands spoke both languages and had mixed ancestry. Today, Poles and Ukrainians are discovering … how much they actually have in common. … More Poles now like than dislike Ukrainians…’. And this was before the issue with Russia has erupted!



Kadri, S. (2022) Passportisation, London Review of Books. 3 August. Available at:

Mick, Ch. (2022) Ukraine and Poland: why the countries fell out in the past, and are now closely allied, TheCoversation, 15 June. Available at:



Blog 7: Balibar on Ukrainian War

October 14th, 2022


After meeting him at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in 1992-93, I followed Balibar, but when doing the Postscript to Faludi and Rocco (Faludi 2022) I could not yet have seen ‘La guerre d’indépendance des Ukrainiens et les frontières du monde’ published on 20 May 2022. Had I known it, I might have been more relaxed about my dual emphasis on (a) Ukraine being a piece on a much larger chessboard and (b) its being – as all states are – an artefact. But, here comes the big news: Putin brings Ukraine closer than ever before to resembling the ideal type of a nation state!

Now, if and when she gets closer to the EU, what will be her stance? Like other member states having joined after the collapse of the Soviet Union, she might above all wish to preserve her national identity and look more to American geopolitical power than to the EU for support.

As far as the EU itself, don’t kid yourself, Balibar says: it is already at war with Russia! It is only that the US takes the lead and the EU‘s station is to follow.

Beyond this, Balibar divines, even if the EU and the US were to form a more solid block in the framework of NATO, China simply does not seem interested in forming a similar blog with Russia. Which leads Balibar to posit that, on a planetary level, political spaces are more and more interconnected. Which is why the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is anything but a local affair. ‘During an epoque of advanced globalisation, all territories, all peoples, all technologies are interdependent, and the interdependencies become manifest in the flows across frontiers of friends and foes alike.‘

For good measure, Balibar throws climate change into the equation, pointing out that, within weeks, Siberia will once again be burning. So, which type of international aid will have to be offered to Russia?

He ends by saying that the war will be long and gruesome and that, while the planet needs above all peace, pacifism is no option. He seems as exasperated as I am, saying:  ’When, and how are we to return to this problem, be it by consolidating, or be it by crossing which borders and by nurturing which alliances with whom? I do not know.’



Balibar, E. (2022) ’La guerre d’indépendance des Ukrainiens et les frontières du monde’, Available at: https://legrandcontinent.eu/fr/2022/05/20/la-guerre-dindependance-des-ukrainiens-et-les-frontieres-du-monde/

Faludi, A. (2022) Postscript, in: Faludi, A., Rocco, R. (Eds.) (2022) Faludi Blogging: Chasing Territorialism, TU
Open Publishing, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, ISBN/EAN: 978-94-6366-577-3; DOI: https://doi.org/10.34641/mg.41.



Blog 8: Étienne Balibar Taking a Stand

October 14th, 2022


According to Étienne Balibar (2022) we are in a hybrid, world-wide war short of a World War. In this, there is nothing but to support Ukrainians retaining their independence. To a pacifist friend, Balibar says that to leave the war alone is a no-no. We are in it simply because it takes place here and now. And we have a stake in this new phase of the European civil war lasting since 1914.

I focus here on Balibar situating the struggle in a borderland where frontiers have gone back and forth and where the population is hybrid. So, ‘…the history of Ukraine is one if changing identities, but also of demographic upheavals caused by colonisations, deportations and mass migrations.‘ It includes the Holodomor of Ukraine’s peasants and its share of – and involvement in – the Holocaust. After all, as Timothy Snyder (2018, 108) says: ’The rich black earth of Ukraine was at the center of the two major European neoimperial projects of the twentieth century, of the Soviets and then the Nazis.’ All this sediments in the memory of today’s nation, not in the form of a unique identity but in bilingualism and biculturalism. So, the strong Ukrainian patriotism is not so much of an ethnic but of a civic nature.

Whatever: the order of the day is to support a people that has been invaded, tortured, massacred and whose homes and cultural objects are being destroyed. Ukraine has the right to defend itself. At the same time, do not forget the campaign for nuclear disarmament and against the militarisation of our societies and try and maintain a world order based on national independence on the one hand and the interdependence between peoples on the other.

I myself beg to differ from Balibar on one count: Ukraine as a borderland and its people as a hybrid being unique. We are all of mixed ancestry inhabiting lands that have changed ownership and changed shapes. On-going nation-building in Ukraine is simply a reminder of this. And there is no end-state. Civic patriotism is dynamic, also and in particular in the way it deals with interdependence.



Balibar, E. (2022) ‘Nous sommes dans la guerre’, AOC [Analyse – Opinion – Critique], Tuesday 5 July.

Snyder, T. (2018) The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America, Vintage Books, New York, N.Y.



Blog 9: The Red Prince

October 14th, 2022


Born in what was still the Kingdom of Hungary in 1940, I grew up in the Republic of Austria. A Monarchist Party putting itself up for elections seemed out of synch, but I am not the only one to have softened on the Habsburgs. In an earlier work, Timothy Snyder of ‘Bloodlands’ fame (Snyder 2010) brings into focus its tolerance for diversity. See ‘The Red Prince’ (Snyder 2008) about Archduke Wilhelm von Habsburg leading Ukrainian soldiers against the Tzar in World War One. Endorsed by the Emperor, the idea was to create an Austrian Crown-land Ukraine. Which was not beyond the realm of the possible: Russia quit the war in 1917, leaving vast areas to Germany and its, by then junior partner, Austria-Hungary. They were setting up rival puppet administrations. Ultimately, though, World War One was lost in the West, so they had to withdraw.

After a short war – I have seen the graves of the soldiers from both sides at the Lviv cemetery – a freshly minted Western Ukrainian People’s Republic lost and Austrian Eastern Galicia became Eastern Poland. The capital Lemberg became Lwów. Not without a fight, with Wilhelm leading Cossacks resisting, the east was left to the mercy of Stalin. But the quest for Ukrainian independence continued, with Wilhelm occasionally meddling. The waters were murky, especially during and immediately after the Second World War, which was when Wilhelm lived in a Vienna occupied by the former World War Two-allies. He was abducted there by the Soviets at a time when I was at elementary school and the city the scene of a subdued East-West conflict. He subsequently died of tbc in a prison cell after having been found guilty ‘…of aspiring to be king of Ukraine in 1918; of leading the Free Cossacks in 1921; and of serving British and French intelligence during and after the war.’ (Page 248) All of which was true.

Bizarre or not, having by now read a fair amount about the background to the fighting that has started on 24 February, 2022, I found this book extremely informative. As with ‘Bloodlands’, it exudes understanding and even more compassion, not only for the protagonist, but for the people affected generally. The book is a great help in understanding what the conflict is about.



Snyder, T. D. (2008) The Read Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke, Basic Books, New York, N.Y.

Snyder, T.D. (2010) Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, Basic Books, New York, N.Y.



Blog 10: Beck and Grande on Cosmopolitanism

October 14th, 2022


I must have seen ’Das kosmopolitische Europa before. After all, there are pages of notes in my files. Rediscovering them, I tried my hand on summarising them in English only to discovered Beck and Grande themselves having written on cosmopolitanism in English. In the relevant article they claim that thinking of the EU as if it were destined to become like a state is wrong. Against seeing her as a state myself, I delved into my notes.

What has cosmopolitanism to do with this? As it happens wrongly, the term conjures up a world government, as if the land surface of the globe were one territory and as such home to one people. But Beck and Grande mean an altogether different form of governance. According to them, European governance has ‘…reached a critical threshold and … the political energy reserves … have now been exhaused…‘ The reason is Europe having been misconstrued as a (federal) state. As against this, cosmopolitanism is about dealing with otherness and renunciating the insistence on one’s own interests. Another one of its maxims is differential integration. No, the authors are not invoking the trope of a neo-medieval Europe as in the subtitle of my book (Faludi 2018). But they could have!

What is particularly interesting is that they see the gold standard for the production of democratic legitimacy, voting, as the greatest danger to true democracy. What majoritarian democracy does, after all, is creating structural minorities.

Cosmopolitanism as against this looks for strategies, not to exclude, but for dealing with otherness. The authors discuss consensual methods of conflict resolution, vesting hope in citizens – and civil society generally – rallying behind this idea. They could not have known that the recent ‘Convention on the Future of Europe’ (https://futureu.europa.eu/?locale=en) would involve, not elected representatives, but a sample of European citizens. My guess is that it will be a flop because of the opposition from the governments of member states. They think like … states!



Beck, U., Grande, E. (2004) Das kosmopolitische Europa, Suhrkamp, Berlin.

Beck, U., Grande, E. (2007) ‘Cosmopolitanism: Europe’s way out of crisis’, European Journal of Social Theory, 10(1), 67-85.

Faludi, A. (2018) The Poverty of Territorialism: Towards a Neo-medieval Europe and European Planning, Edgar Elgar, Cheltenham.



Blog 11: Ukrainian Persistence

October 14th, 2022


This paper by Bertrand de Franqueville and Adrian Nonjon (2022) is on ‘Memoire et sentiment national en Ukraine’. Whilst I am writing this, I also hear Deutschlandfunk on giving up territory at the expense of Ukraine in exchange of a secession of hostilities.

But Putin has underwritten Ukraine in its present borders. So, restoring them is the dominant narrative. At the same time, we are in what Bartrand and Weitz describe as the ‘shatter zone’ of empires. It is where many a national movement has made claims to – and received various degrees of recognition of – its independence. Out of this maelstrom, the former Socialist Soviet Republic Ukraine has emerged as an independent state Ukraine. It includes Western Ukraine with memories of an unsuccessful struggle against Polish domination followed by vain hopes of a revival as a Nazi ally followed by a bloody, and in the end unsuccessful guerrilla against the Soviets. Eastern Ukraine experienced the Holodrome – the famine of Ukrainian peasants engineered by Stalin – followed by immigration from Russia. Franqueville and Nonion point out that, where modern Ukraine has pursued a campaign of ‘Leninapad’ (destruction of Lenin statutes), the locals have responded with their own historic imagery of a proletarian paradise lost. So, we witness a struggle between alternative historic narratives, all more or less constructed, but all including kernels of truth.

The paper discussed here quotes Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983) but could equally well have quoted Thiesse (1999) on the widespread practice of inventing narratives to bolster conflicting claims to one and the same geographic area. Truly, it is the idea of nationhood within a clearly defined territory that we should problematise, but when the sky explodes with bombs and rockets this is not a very practicable strategy.



Bartor, O., Weitz, E.D. (Eds) (2013) Shatter Zone of Empires, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana.

Franqueville, de, B, Nonjon, A. (2022) Memoire et sentiment national en Ukraine. Available at: https://laviedesidees.fr/Memoire-et-sentiment-national-en-Ukraine.html.

Hobsbawm, E., Ranger, T. (1983) The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Thiesse, A.-M. (1999) La creation des identiées nationales, Seuil, Paris.



Blog 12: The downsides of globalisation and how to deal with them

October 14th, 2022


In 2005, Leonard saw Europe eclipsing the US. In 2021 he factored China into the equation and exposed globalisation’s downsides. Critiquing territorialism (Faludi 2018), I myself have quoted Goodhart (2017) on the ‘anywheres’ reaping its benefits, .ut not so with the ‘somewheres’. When presenting my work, I once shared a platform with Andrés Rodríguez-Pose speaking on Brexit as the revenge of ‘areas left behind’. (See Rodríguez-Pose 2018)

To return to Leonhard, we do need to address the downsides of globalisation, he says. This alongside with ways in which interconnectedness can be weaponised. There is for instance heightened awareness of our dependence on logistic networks. Now, Leonhard’s advice may be misunderstood as cutting relations. But the consequence would be more territorialism. But his point is more subtle: Like with the advice to estranged couples, he argues for recognising that interdependencies can lead to estrangement. And he continues saying that, rather than cut relations, the way forward is to manage interdependencies. So, Leonard writes that the therapy for a connected world is to work for healthy boundaries, promote self-care and seek greater consent from the people.

But healthy boundaries need to be tailor-made. And, importantly, they need not always be at the outer edge of a state’s territory. The fiction that this is so makes us think of territories as if they were like estates, each with an owner. Which is, of course, what sovereigns once have been: owners of their realms. Replacing sovereigns with ‘the people’ meant committing the category error of thinking of the people in the singular. This mould does not fit.



Faludi, A. (2018) The Poverty of Territorialism, Edgar Elgar, Cheltenham.

Goodhart. D. (2017) The Road to Somewhere, Hyrst & Co, London.

Leonard, M. (2021) The Age of Unpeace: How Connectivity Causes Conflict, Bantam Press, London.

Rodríguez-Pose, A. (2018) ’The revenge of the places that don’t matter (and what to do about it’, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11(1), 189–209.



Blog 13: Advice from ESPON

October 14th, 2022


Dealing with cross-border cooperation, a new Policy Brief (ESPON, no year)  shows how to handle spatial planning in an apparently disorderly, ’neo-medieval‘ Europe, one where borders of various kinds criss-cross each other.

In Faludi (2018), I have territorialism in the crosshairs, with side-glances only at how planners figure space. Since then, I have come to identify various meta-spatial planning theories (Faludi 2021a,b). So I distinguish between: space as a territory, a place, or a functional area. Territories are – more or less – fixed. Places are defined ad-hoc, depending on some action group attaching meaning to them. Functional areas are determined by supply and demand of services. No one form of planning – not even statutory planning invoking the powers of the state – can  claim priority. So, can/must one compromise on sovereign rule?

This becomes particularly evident where places – a beloved nature area, a common heritage site – and/or functional areas like river catchment areas, labour markets – criss-cross state borders, thereby making planning difficult. Here, the EU comes in with its Interreg programme. But Interreg is up against member state reluctance to give up controlling their borders.

ESPON offers a guide to map out such situations case-by-case. With Geneva, Luxembourg and Lithuania its cases, the report shows how to identify conflicts and the relevant actors. This is a handbook for exploring whatever common ground for action there is. It recommends a ‘mapshot’ and an ‘institutional map’ showing the mutual relations between the actors concerned.

Surely, such situations are by no means unique to cross-border areas. Borders are criss-crossing the surface of the globe, stretching out their tentacles also to maritime space. (See my keynote at the MUD conference on spatial planning and development on land and at sea at Breda University of Applied Science on June 2, 2022: www.buas.nl/mud.) So, cross-border areas are not the only ones where cooperation is the order of the day. Which is why this set of tools – and the cooperative spirit which they presume – are of more general applicability. They come in handy where, as ever so often in planning, there are many actors with overlapping areas of concern involved.



ESPON (no year) (https://www.espon.eu/topics-policy/publications/policy-brief-soft-cooperation-building-block-territorial-cohesion

Faludi, A. (2018) The Poverty of Territorialism: Towards a Neo-Medieval Europe and European Spatial Planning, Edgar Elgar, Cheltenham.

Faludi, A. (2021a) ’Populism and spatial planning meta-theory’, disP – The Planning Review, 57(4), 68–76.

Faludi A, (2021b) ‘The tension between object and process: Three spatial planning meta-theories’, The Evolving Scholar | IFoU 14th Edition, DOI: 10.24404/614079cda34ddd0008a1212d.



Blog 14: Territorialism – Sovereignism – Populism

November 15th, 2022


Territorialism means definite areas – territories – each being under the control of a sovereign with ultimate authority over it. Were done in the name of the people, this, what may be called sovereignism invites populism. Map-making is the productive force behind them. Behold that surveyors employing new techniques were the ones who literally created the territory of the French King. Before then, the nobility and the church had held, often scattered properties, but neither they, nor the people bonded to the land were identifiers. Rather, they were objects of bargaining. The French King asserting his land as his by the grace of God changed this. ‘L’État c’est moi’ (The State is me) Louis XIV is – maybe wrongly – reputed to have exclaimed. The principle of the religion of the ruler dictating the belief of the ruled only enforced the idea that the sovereign and his realm were one and the same. Sovereignism became territorialism’s twin. In the French Revolution the people assuming sovereignty underwent its baptism of fire at the Battle of Valmy where conscripts beat the forces of restoration. But, how could the people express its will? ’Even if the act of voting is an individual right, the subject of representation is not the individual taken in isolation but the nation, meaning the collective as, an indivisible whole! The only identity-producing representation is the citizenry as a collective totality. (Si le fait de voter est un droit de l’ordre personnel, le sujet de la répresentation n’est pas l’individu pris isolèment, mais la nation, s’est-à-dire la collectivité dans sa totalité indécomposable. La seule idéntité que produit la représentation est celle de la citoyenneté, de l’appartenence au tout. Rosanvallon 1998, 50-51).

But who belonged? French could not be the qualifier. It took the best part of a century before the Third Republic had beaten the language into children. More fundamentally: how could the the gap between individuals with their right each to vote and an indivisible collective be bridged? By counting votes? Rosanvallon (2020) quotes Alexis de Tocqueville having gasped at the spectable of the first national elections under universal (male) suffrage in 1848, saying that democracy had become a ‘question of arithmetic’. Significantly, soon after the counting had ended, a coup and a referendum made an end to the short-lived Second Republic. Napoleon’s nephew, Louis Napoleon, became Emperor. See here an example of political entrepreneurs nestling themselves in the gap between individual voters and the indivisible – but also invisible – collective. As always, this happens under the banner of serving the people. Oh, yes, do count the votes, but make sure they are going your way! Nothing much has changed since, only the technology of securing desireable outcome has! So, what needs looking at is (1) the people in its abstraction as the nation; (2) the assumption of it being the sovereign owner of its territory; (3) how to deal with populists seeking power on the backs of such undue simplifications.



Rosanvallon, P. (1998) Le peuple introuvable, Gallimard, Paris.

Rosanvallon, P. (2020) Le siècle du populisme: Histoire, théorie, critique, éditions du seuil, Paris.



Blog 15: Territorialism and Spatial Justice

November 15th, 2022


Not having spilled much ink on arguments in its favour, in Faludi (2018) I put forward ‘neo-medievalism’ as an alternative to territorialism. Anna Stilz (2019) does better in arguing for territories as the units of political organisation. Among others, she invokes spatial justice as an argument. But she is also for curtailing state sovereignty in the interest of pursuing the (global) common good. Which I argue below moves territorialism – a term she does not invoke – more towards neo-medievalism. Discussing arguments for state control over territory, she invokes rights, autonomy, legitimacy, border control and the exploitation of resources. But she adds that a world order of independent territorial states nowhere justifies the full set of sovereign rights claimed by them. And she recognises that the state system is contingent upon specific historical developments. Alternatives – including empires – accord less of a structuring role to the boundaries ever so important for the territorial state. Their usual moral justification is: (1) they delineate rights of occupancy, in so doing allowing people to use geographic places for practices they care about; (2) their being essential for securing justice; (3) for collective self-determination any state requiring the right to rule a definite population and territory. But Stilz proposes modifications also to such state prerogatives with respect to (1) minorities, (2) immigrants, and (3) natural resources, which is where spatial justice obviates territorialism: Respecting minority rights implies abandoning the unitary state. So with rejecting its right to exclude outsiders at its pleasure. It is the same with recognising claims by outsiders for sharing natural resources. Excluding them can be justified only insofar as accessing them would be harmful to inhabitants and/or where the outsiders concerned have no urgent claim for access. Which means that sovereignty is not the absolute right of states over their territories which it is commonly made to be.

What does this imply for the critique of territorialism and for neo-medievalism? First that, where the commonly held – absolute – version of territorialism is concerned, Stilz vindicates neo-medievalism as an alternative. Second that, if followed, her own precepts would bring the situation closer to neo-medievalism. After all, her minimal condition is that state institutions be empowered for setting collective rules and enforcing them, no more. So, traditional indigenous decision-making, much as local self-organising schemes qualify. Which amounts to a revisionist account of territorial sovereignty, one that allows for global institutions to pursue the eradication of global poverty, ensure fair trade, much as the background conditions for self-determination including corrective justice. In other words, socioeconomic justice between countries is a condition for the system of territorial states to be morally justifiable. At the same time, pursuing spatial justice pushes territorialism towards pluralism. Whether the outcome should be termed neo-medieval is of secondary importance.



Faludi, A. (2018) The Poverty of Territorialism, Edgar Elgar, Cheltenham.

Still, A. (2019) Territorial Sovereignty: A Philosophical Exploration, Oxford University Press, Oxford.



Blog 16: Territorialism – Sovereignism – Populism II

December 21st, 2022


Ukraine’s baptism of fire (and cold!) defies the imagination. What is behind is Russian territorialism and sovereignism annex populism, like when voters are asked to make Vladimir Putin Russian President practically for life. Other than what is being said – lately by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (2022) – which is that Russia has become imperialist, Putin seeking to unify ‘Great’, ‘Little’ and ‘White’ Russians signifies nationalism. Did not Hitler, too, bring the Germans from Sudetenland – never before part of Germany – back into the Reich, in so doing dismantling Czechoslovakia?

The situation being what it is, is there much else than – even if this means more rather than less nationalism – supporting Ukraine in her struggle to forge a nation from speakers of different languages united by their being under Russian fire? Maybe there is, but Emmanuel Macron has been criticised for envisaging a future peace agreement to also address Russia’s security concerns. (Euroactive.com 2022) Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz retorted that not Russia, but Ukraine and the Central-Eastern European region needed guarantees. Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Oleksii Danilov added that Russia had a security guarantee already: the International Criminal Court not imposing capital punishment. (Euroactive.pl 2022)

What else is there to be done? Maybe pointing to the origins of territorialism-sovereignism-populism. Louis XVI may never have said: ‘L’état c’est moi’, but his loadstar was the unity of the sovereign, his territory and the people on whose labour the economy relied. Now, of course, the French Revolution replaced the sovereign with the People. Which raised the urgent question of how the People could speak – let alone act – as a singular subject. It proved vulnerable to being manipulated. Napoleon was a grand master of this, making himself First Consul with plenipotentiary powers and subsequently – with 3,572,329 votes in favour to a puny 2,579 against – Emperor. (Roberts 2016, 347) Eventually, the Bourbon restoration and its aftermath issued in the short-lived Second Republic. After general elections – democracy becoming a matter of arithmetic, said Alexis de Tocqueville – a nephew of Napoleon the Great by the name of Louis Napoleon became the Second Republic’s first President. He proceeded to engineer a coup, and a referendum made him Emperor Napoleon III – not the last populist leader to appeal to ‘the People’ for confirmation of his actions: So did Hitler after the ‘Anschluss’ of Austria in 1938 and Stalin when cashering the Baltic States and Western Poland in 1939.

The unholy trinity Territorialism-Sovereignism-Populism can have achievements to its credit, from Napoleon’s Code Civil to Hitler’s Autobahnen, but so with the Pharaohs! Planners may be impressed by the ability to mobilise people and resources. They should remember that there are costs attached to the boundedness of territories: You cannot pursue spatial relations wherever they take you. So, their professionalism should make them eschew Territorialism-Sovereignism-Populism in all its manifestations.



Euroactive.com (2022) See: https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/opinion/the-brief-macrons-diplomatic-plight/?utm_source=piano&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=27143&pnespid=7Lg4FyBKZL0K0fLZp2S_Csndv0KhVpQuKumykLRo9hdmiK0jgPgUmR4P6CJANs3UESS.T7fcmw

Euroactive.pl (2022) See: https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/poland-slams-macrons-call-to-discuss-security-guarantees-with-putin/?utm_source=piano&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=27204&pnespid=t6c4WX9cOa1E2aCZqCm3H5yW4EO.S4p7Pbm20PVptQJmu.d0EQzBm5cBq0rHlFAuZZBwSBLHPw

Roberts, A. (2016) Napoleon the Great, Penguin (Kindle edition), London, p. 347.

Scholz, O. (2022) ‘Die globale Zeitenwende’, Foreign Affairs, 5 December. See: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/germany/die-globale-zeitenwende



Blog 17: On Poltava

January 4th, 2023


Russian born but raised in Ukraine, Serhii Plokhy (2019) writes about Americans bombing Germany from the east in 1944. I had picked up the scent of this from Norman Davies (2004) writing about Allied airmen over Poland being unable to help the Polish Home Army. Next to Soviet refusal to let the Americans rescue their POWs in Eastern Europe, it was the Polish issue that spoiled relations most. But Stalin was not to be distracted from creating satellites, not only in Poland, but throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

Indeed, their base at Poltava in newly liberated Soviet lands allowed US bombers to target areas that up until then had been out of reach. Which required getting mechanics, bombs, fuel and spare parts to where a US ground crew was assisted by their Soviet comrades-in-arms, all under the watchful eyes of the Soviet Army Secret Service.

Further west, in Lviv, US personnel sent to recover downed US aircraft gained first hand knowledge of the Soviets absorbing yet again – they had been at it already from 1939-1941 – this formerly Austrian and then Polish city. The Western Allies had to accept it ‘…remaining under formal Ukrainian and actual Soviet control.’ (Plokhy 2019, 193) The Poles were being moved west. The University of Lemberg-Lvov-Lviv moved lock, stock and barrel to Wroclaw! Except as tourists, Poles are no longer in evidence in what is presently the westernmost large city of Ukraine.

The Jewish community of Lviv had suffered grievously. Lviv now commemorates the victims, but in 1944 the US airmen found Poles still in evidence there showing little sympathy with them. The arimen also saw Ukrainian nationalists. Having resisted Polish rule in 1919-1939, they would resist the Soviets for five more years, until 1949.

At Poltava itself, US airmen mixed with Soviet soldiers much as civilians. ‘Having come to Ukraine with … great sympathy toward the Soviets, they were leaving … hostile to the regime.’ (Plokhy 2019, 231) There was also much mistrust on the Russian side. Communist ideology apart, there was the memory of foreign, including American intervention on the side of the Whites during the Bolshevik Revolution. Current support for Ukraine, too, evokes such memories. This the more so since Plokhy mentions American planes and personnel being back at Poltava to train Ukrainian forces fighting in the Donbas at the time. This was of course before the present conflict.

Concerning the much more vicious fighting now, Plokhy observes that ‘…no one single politician may do more to establish separate Ukrainian and Russian identities in the 21st century than Putin…Ukrainians united in 2014 across religious, ethnic and linguistic lines. The last eight years have been tremendously important in the history of Ukraine in forging this new identity.’ (EL PAIS, 2022) Well, yes! But forging a new nation under fire in the 21st century as if we were in the 19th or 20th is surely a bitter irony?



EL PAIS (2022). Historian Serhii Plokhy: ‘The fate of the war is already clear: Ukraine will be independent and Russia with be tremendously weakened’. Available at: https://english.elpais.com/international/2022-12-01/historian-serhii-plokhy-the-fate-of-the-war-is-already-clear-ukraine-will-be-independent-and-russia-will-be-tremendously-weakened.html.

Davies, N. (2004) Rising ‘44: The Battle for Warsaw, Macmillan, London

Plokhy, S. (2019) Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front: An Untold Story of World War II, Penguin, London.



Blog 18: Spectacularly wrong!

January 12th, 2023


Advocating ‘neo-medievalism’ in Faludi (2018) was something of a long shot. I had little more than Zielonka (2014) to go by, and he does not elaborate much on neo-medievalism! Criticising the view of the Peace of Westphalia marking a swing to the nation state, Vergerio (2021) does. The story is ‘spectacularly wrong’, she says, because, until the 19th century, ‘…the international order was made up of a patchwork of polities’. Indeed, until as late as 1899, ‘Europe east of the French border looked nothing like its contemporary iteration.’ Thus, the German Federation (1815-1866) ‘…hardly looked as a national state…’ Nor did the Habsburg monarchy, and so with much of the rest of Europe. Empires ‘…continued to thrive despite the growing popularity of nation states. It took until after 1945 for the nation-state to become the only option on the table’.

Counterfactuals are dangerous, she says, but ‘…what we now consider self-evident was just one available option.’ Also, an international system ‘…in which power is shared among different kinds of actors might in fact be relatively stable.’ In addition, we need to reconsider the historic role of non-state actors, like mercantile companies as the engines which they have been of European imperial expansion. But unfortunately, ‘…the myth of Westphalia tends to obliterate any historical evidence that does not make the States-system look like a nearly 400-year-old historical inevitability.’ This whereas it ‘…begins to look like an anomaly…’ clouding our appreciation of a present. ‘The layering of sovereignty within polities like the EU, the rising power of corporations, the prominence of violent groups not considered “states” — none of these developments is fundamentally at odds with how international relations operated over the past…’

As against our fixation on the so-called Westphalian order, Vergerio insists that an alternative – dare I say neo-medieval – narrative opens ‘…the way to envision an international order that could make space for a greater diversity of polities… Today the norm is that states enjoy far more rights than any other collectivity … But it is not always clear why this should be the only framework available … The myth of Westphalia has ultimately inflicted serious damage to our ability to think creatively about how to tackle the pressing global challenges that transcend both borders and levels of governmental Organization…’ Planners in general, and the small fraternity of European planners of the 1990s – with their apologists, including myself (see: Faludi 2010) preaching well into the 21st century – know what she is talking about.



Faludi, A. (2010) Cohesion, Coherence, Cooperation: European Spatial Planning Coming of Age? (RTPI Library Series), Routledge, London.

Faludi, A. (2019) The Poverty of Territorialism: Toward a Neo-medieval Europe and European Spatial Planning, Edgar Elgar, Cheltenham.

Vergerio, C. (2021) ‘Sovereign states have been mythologized as the natural unit of political order. History shows how new they are – and how we can think beyond them, Boston Review, May 21. Available at: https://www.bostonreview.net/articles/beyond-the-nation-state/

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



Blog 19: Non-citizens in the Baltics

January 17th, 2023


Admiring its Jugendstil, when in Riga, I also inquired about the Russian minority, a remnant of when the Baltic states had been Soviet Republics. To be granted Latvian citizenship, they had to demonstrating loyalty to their new home state. But many did not care: As ‘non-citizens’ they enjoyed residency rights whilst also having access to Russia.

Maybe the EU was unhappy, but strategic concerns must have prevailed. Along with Estonia, Latvia was accepted together with Lithuania (with fewer Russians). But at least Baltic non-citizen residents can travel in the EU.

A history buff, I made sure we also went to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. Upon leaving we had coffee nearby. It was a Sunday, and the place was packed with Russian speakers. We wondered how they felt about – indeed, whether they even knew about – the Latvian struggle for independence.

But, not to worry: the Riga mayor – no doubt in this case a citizen – was an ethnic Russian at the time. Also, a short walk away was the late-19th century Russian Orthodox Nativity Cathedral vying for attention with the near-by (Latvian) Freedom Monument. Obviously, accommodation was possible.

Still, I could not help thinking: what an opportunity lost for integrating a contingent of Russians into the EU! At the same time, given its history, one can sympathise with Latvia not bringing herself to accept Russians as compatriots, insisting that they become quasi-Latvians first.

Had they done so, would they now be moles? Maybe, but not more than we should be wary of moles anyhow. And, according to some reports, more Russians in Latvia become citizens now!

Why recall all of this? Because now the, close to 20,000 permanent residents with Russian citizenship remaining (clearly, a minority amongst ethnic Russians) must do what they have not so far been forced to do: prove that they can speak Latvian. Otherwise, their residence permit will not be extended. (Euro-topics 2023) Will they be extradited? And, once again, would it not have been wiser to be magnanimous towards what in the Baltic States are described as ‘colonists’? They hardly came of their own volition! And, even if some of them upon becoming Latvian would have remained Russian loyalists, those who did not might have been beacons to their fellows across the border, showing them that a Russian identity does not always mean to take sides with the Russian State!

Euro-topics (2023) Available at: https://www.eurotopics.net/en/294503/latvia-discusses-new-immigration-law?zitat=294429#zitat294429

Blog 20: Territorialism in the Crosshairs

January 30th, 2023


Borders are where what I call ‘The Poverty of Territorialism’ in (Faludi 2018) becomes manifest. It seems right and proper that this is where to confront it. Commenting on the Treaty of Aachen, Peyrony (2021) and Peyrony, Sielker and Perrin (2022) show how to do this.

Concluded by the Federal Republic of Germany and France, that treaty is open to others to join. It foresees in the possibility of regulations to be invoked beyond the border of states, much as what the Commission proposal for a European Cross-Border Mechanism – which so far member states have rejected – aims for.

Between them, the two papers give a detailed account of the Aachen Treaty, identifying three ‘theoretical lenses’ – soft spaces, multi-level governance and inter-territoriality, the latter proposed in French and thus less well-known to Anglophones.

Don’t tell, but this all amounts to undermining the rationale for controlling state territories right up to their borders beyond which loom other states exercising their sovereignty and spending their resources for their own benefit. The obvious answer is to endow cross-border areas with their own resources, legal and otherwise, and also with ways of their own of producing democratic legitimacy. What this amounts to is to confront the poverty of territorialism where it hurts most.

Locked in an endemic struggle with member states, the EC would love this – and in this it deserves to be supported! Under the same logic, the EU’s external borders, too, need to come in for scrutiny. In fact the EU is more like an oil-spill than the ‘fortress Europe’ as which populists grudgingly accepting that individual states can no longer control flows wish to see it.

Are we talking about the chimera of a borderless world? No, but rather a world with borders that are evolving and overlapping, as per the subtitle of my book which is: ‘Towards a Neo-medieval Europe and European planning.’



Faludi, A. (2018) The Poverty of Territorialism: Towards a Neo-medieval Europe and European Planning, Edgar Elgar, Cheltenham.

Peyrony, J. (2021) Le Traité d’Aix-la-Chapelle: potentiels et défis du chapitre sur la coopération transfrontalière’, in: J. Beck (ed) Rechtlich-institutionelle Flexibilisierung im Kontext des Aachener Vertrags / Flexibilisation juridique et institutionnelle dans le cadre du Traité d’Aix-la-Chapelle, Peter Lang, Brussels, 359-384.

Peyrony, J., Sielker, F., Perrin, T. (2022) ‘Cross-border territorial cooperation between France and Germany: Evolution, convergence and perspectives’, in: E. Gustedt et al. (eds.) Cities and Metropolises in France and Germany. Forschungsberichte der ARL 20, Hanover, 180-199. Available at: https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:0156-1119101. (In due course, the book will become available in French and German, too.)



Blog 21: Chipping Away on Territorialism

February 3rd, 2023


Previously from the University of Luxemburg and now hailing from the University of Erlangen, Tobias Chilla (2022) has published a chapter on ‘Die flexible Region‘ (The flexible region). It reviews texts in the Anglo-Saxon literature on ’soft spaces’, relating the concept to German situations with glimpses also of the EU. Amongst others, Chilla refers to my critique of ‘territorialism’. (Faludi 2013)

It is not often that positions I take are labelled ‘extreme’, but this is what Chilla does as regards my claim ‘…that a more-and-more integrated Europe could only function by transcending the classic understandings of territory [and] in so doing conceiving of soft planning as an essential building block in overcoming “territorialism” fuelled by the interests of nation states.’ (Own translation)

Now, it should be evident from that paper that in criticising territorialism I am in very good company. More importantly, its adherents are radicals themselves! So, as the saying (which as a German speaker Chilla himself will understand) goes: ‘Auf einen groben Klotz gehört ein grober Keil’ – on a coarse block belongs a coarse wedge. Stronger still, since territorialism represents the radical position that states must have the monopoly on the use of force both within and without their borders, a firm response is not only justified, but clearly called for: Territorialism – and its associated, what might be called sovereignism – are on shaky ground: States are not what their apologists make them to be: subject only to laws that they accept of their own volition. And, where they try to live up to this ideal, they cause much harm.

Should we then do away with states? Maybe, but not in one sweep! Recognising that they are no longer – have never really been – sovereign in fact, and that at present they approximate sovereignty less and less would be a good start.

I have criticised territorialism-cum-sovereignism stemming from the French monarch identifying himself with the State before. In the French Revolution, ‘the People’ took his robe as if it were a singular actor, which it is plainly not. But the French Revolution sustained the idea of a one-to-one relation between the sovereign and his/her territory as if he/she were in a manner of speaking owning it. Which required tortuous constructs as if ‘the nation’ had personality and was managing its estate. Which has taken us – as under populism – to identifying the people with a chosen leader – chosen in the dual sense of elected, but also anointed and speaking for the people as if they were one.

Now, recognising that the people acting in unison is untenable is one thing, but doing away with the state and its territoriality in one swoop is quite another. How else than by invoking it could the authorities engage in planning, Chilla (2022, 88) is asking. True, but whilst recognising the uncomfortable truth that the state is here to persist for some time to come, we at the same time need to chip away at it until the tree falls in a more-or-less controlled manner.

It is here where soft spaces have a crucial role to play. They make us realise that insisting on hard borders, on tough controls, on ‘right or wrong: my country’ is a dead end. At the same time we must accept that the medicine agencies need time to pass their verdicts on the cures on offer. Whatever: in doing so, they need to take in multilateralism, pay attention to overlapping concerns, the need for compromises, in short: engage in soft planning for soft places.



Chilla, T. (2022) ‘Die flexible Region’, in: Ermann, U., Häfner, M., Hostniker, S., Preininger, E.M., Simic, D, (eds.) Die Region – eind Begriffserkundung, De Gruyter, Berlin.

Faludi, A. (2013) Territorial cohesion, territorialism, territoriality, and soft planning: A critical review’, Environment and Planning A, 45(6), 1302-1317.



Blog 22: Not (yet) a plan

February 20th, 2023


This is not to weaken Ukraine’s resolve but to express regret about her feeling compelled to embrace the territorialism-cum-sovereignism which in these blogs I criticise. Russia doing the same seems to leave her no other choice.

Here, I home in on but one aspect: the promotion – not to say the invention – of national languages. So, multi-lingual Ukraine is promoting Ukrainian. Which is why the, give-and-take 100.000 ethnic Hungarians around Uzhhorod in Western Ukraine see the right to use their language curtailed. Little surprise that as a consequence relations with a Hungary always concerned about ethnic Hungarians beyond her borders are cooling!

Recall that the 1920 Treaty of Trianon has left millions of Hungarians stranded in neighbouring countries expanding at the expense of the Kingdom of Hungary. Prime Minister Victor Orbàn has never claimed to reunite them with the motherland, but he freely grants Hungarian (EU) passports to ethnic Hungarians. (If only I re-learned the language I spoke as a young child, I would qualify!) And he seeks to increase his clout in what is commonly described as the Carpathian Basin.

‘Nem-Nem-Soha!!!!’ (No-No-Never!!!!) is the battle cry of revisionists to the right, even of Orbàn (himself not beyond wearing a scarf with the former – Hungarian – Kingdom of the Crown of Saint Steven at a football match). There is nothing like being prepared for all eventualities, so people to his right might very well be dreaming the dream. Which is what former MEP Benedek Jávor must have gotten wind of: Territories lost in 1920, then regained by the grace of Adolf Hitler and lost again after Hungary – a German ally – succumbed to the Allies – in her case the Soviets – might after all return! One-time Russian president Dimitry Medvedev seems to have suggested no less. (https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/former-mep-hungary-eyes-post-war-benefits-from-russia/)

Slovakia, too, includes former Hungarian territory. The fear of Hungary claiming it back is sufficiently alive for the Slovak minister of foreign affairs to suggest what Jávor has also got wind of: Should Russia manage to conquer Ukraine, ‘…Hungary could make territorial demands for the Hungarian-majority region of southern Slovakia’. (https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/slovak-minister-wont-apologise-to-hungary-for-lost-territories-comments/)

Zakarpattia Oblast where Uzhhorod is located includes former areas, not only of Hungary (and former Hungarian lands passed on first to Czechoslovakia) but also of Poland and Romania. Like on the Balkans, the people, though, were an ethnic mix: the old normal which states, most of them new, were trying to change. The people were suffering the consequences. A trusted source tells me about an elderly man in Transcarpathia/Zakarpattya telling his story in the 1990s: Born in the prewar Kingdom of Hungary, his schooling had been in then Czechoslovakia. When he got married, the area was Hungary again. Eventually, he brought up his children in the Soviet Union until, by the 1990s, he found himeself in Ukraine, all this without ever leaving Munkács/Mukachevo/Mukacheve!




March 27th, 2023


With my being a visiting researcher at Delft University of Technology having come to an end, I am retired for good. By sheer coincidence, RearchGate has decided to rescind projects like mine on ‘The Poverty of Territorialism’. As followers and readers of what I like to call my blogs (upgrades on ResearchGate) will appreciate, this closes a communication channel that I have used with vigour.

No, I am not looking for alternative avenues but am grateful that the website of Urbanism is willing to host the blogs already published. All the earlier ones up to, give and take the end of 2021 have of course gone into ‘Chasing Territorialism’.

Surely, my being a visiting researcher coming to an end is no drama, even if I would have preferred for it to coincide with the 50th anniversary of my becoming a professor of planning. I take consolation from the fact this is 50 years since the publication of ‘A Reader in Planning Theory’ and ‘Planning Theory’. Those books are of course miles apart from what I have done over the last quarter of a century: studying European planning.

With Dick Williams and others, my initial take has been European planning to be about the space of the EU. Researching (with Bas Waterhout) ‘The Making of the European Spatial Development Perspective’ has taught me that this was a distant prospect. But maybe mutual learning might  nudge us closer to this ideal, I thought. In the mid-2010s, I lost faith. Member states are caught in a ‘territorialism’ standing for the globe being divided into terrorities, each the responsibility of a sovereign state. If I were to start all over again, I would focus on where this territorialism-cum-sovereignism is being questioned: at borders.


Andreas Faludi