Transfrontier Conservation and the Spaces of Regionalisms

Authored by: Maano Ramutsindela

The Ashgate Research Companion to Regionalisms

Print publication date:  January  2012
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754677628
eBook ISBN: 9781315613499
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041863


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The conceptualisation of regions as processes rather than simply bounded spaces has opened the possibilities for understanding regions from various perspectives. These include the appreciation of formal and informal processes through which regions are created and enacted, and the ways in which activities are re-scaled in line with particular goals of regionalisms. Regions, Paasi (2001) cautioned, should not be treated as if they are independent entities operating above human beings, but rather as social constructs that are linked to practices and discourses. There is therefore a need to move way from state-centric perspectives to accommodate state and non-state constituents and formal and informal processes. This shift is at the core of new regionalism approaches, which allow for a comprehensive understanding of regions and the processes that create or dismantle them. Clearly, regionalism as a process is not limited to a particular scale. Instead, the process involves activities and institutions that are often spread across and between scales. The nature and consequences of re-scaling in the pursuit of a regional goal are clear from transfrontier conservation areas (hereafter TFCAs) that straddle national borders to produce micro-regions of different kinds. Such micro-regions are linked to processes and programmes taking place at higher levels and in different parts of the world. Söderbaum and Taylor (2008, 15) correctly observed that ‘micro-regional processes are not only about micro-regions but also reflect greater processes at the macro-level’. This chapter draws on examples from TFCAs in Southern Africa to demonstrate the ways in which state and non-state actors, armed with science, economic orthodoxies and political rationales collectively produce regions. The focus of the chapter is on how cross-border conservation unbounds the state and creates possibilities for the blurring of boundaries between the formal and the informal on the one hand, and for consolidating the supra-national scale on the other hand. The chapter also accounts for why various actors have interest in TFCAs that converge towards the production of new spaces of regionalism in which new contours of territorial arrangement are created.

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