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A Borderless Region? (Nazi-)German Westforschung and the German-Dutch-Belgian Borderland

Ad Knotter

Abstract


This paper focuses on the historical research tradition of Kulturraumforschung (the study of 'cultural regions') as it was developed in Germany before World War II, and its impact, not only on the Nazi program of border change in the 1930s and 1940s, but also on the contemporary political construction of a 'de-bordered' Euregio Meuse-Rhine in the German-Dutch-Belgian borderland. The paper argues that the profound essentialism of this way of thinking is best replaced by constructivist and actor-oriented approaches based in the social sciences. Historically, we cannot overlook the impact of the formation of political borders in the 19th and 20th centuries. Political borders institutionalized national territories in the borderlands and promoted the construction of regional identities within a national context. The emerging border studies in geography and anthropology can help historians to develop a non-essentialist comparative interpretation of cross-border history in the Meuse-Rhine Area.

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

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