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The Temporalit(ies) of European Cross-Border Governance: Euregios and the Problem of Sens

Olivier Thomas Kramsch


Writing against the grain of historical-materialist as well as social-constructivist accounts of cross-border networking within the European Union, the author draws on a stream of French geopolitical writing so as to craft an alternative conceptual lens for understanding the possibilities and constraints of cross-border governance in Europe today. Informed by phenomenological and hermeneutic approaches, this work attempts to reinsert time as a key analytical variable in grasping the intensity and direction of change and possibilities for novel territorial alignments brought about by recent shifts in the structure and flow of world power. Within this largely Francophone tradition, the challenge thrown up by globalization is framed not so much in political economic terms but fundamentally as a problem of meaning (or, sens), experienced in the dilemma of adequately interpreting the temporal and symbolic break brought on by the end of the Cold War and the demise of all forward-looking ideologies which draw on its Enlightenment legacy. Borders, it is argued, and particularly cross-border regions, are the privileged sites from which to observe the development of this problematic, as today sovereignty must be stretched across political boundary lines in order for national sovereignty to survive. Through the key concepts of 'event,' 'irreversibility' and 'coherence,' the author attempts to convey a poetics onto the transnational dimension of cross-border regions that would in turn provide conditions of accessibility linked to their temporal dynamics. Applying such concepts to the cases of Northern Ireland, the EUROREGION Kent/Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Central and Eastern Europe (notably Poland), the author explores the degree to which the emergence of crossborder regions in Europe today can achieve the status of 'events' generating their own spatiotemporal legitimacies.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229