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INOPERATIVE PROVINCES, IMMOBILE REGIONS AND THE GEOGRAPHY OF HETEROGENEOUS ASSOCIATIONS: THE CASE OF ABSENT TERRITORIAL BORDER CHANGE IN ESTONIA

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT.

The geography of heterogeneous associations, an approach derived from the tradition of actor‐network theory, is a valuable analytical contribution to the study of sub‐state territorial entities. Shown here in an application to the Maaritsa border change controversy, which took place in Estonia 2001–2003, the approach has several merits compared to now dominant analytical perspectives in regional geography. The rejection of a regional imagination, as the natural way of conceptualizing provinces, is used to demonstrate that Estonian provinces and provinciality are performed, and can be analytically described, through multiple and complex spatialities. First, the inoperative character of provinces in the everyday life of many peripheral households is understood to be the result of incoherence in regional space between rigid administrative and fluid non‐administrative provinciality. Second, the problems with long distance control in the Estonian governmental system, related mainly to the ambiguous character of legislation and unstable politico‐administrative coalitions, are identified as the main cause of failure in the government's attempt to change provincial borders in regional space. Third, provincial research is seen as the practice that attempts to translate two other provincial modalities – provinces in everyday life and in governmental provincial politics – into a report designated to provide a synoptic and simplified view of complex peripheral provinciality for the central government. The article concludes with the argument that these three provincial modalities are intertwined in practice and their performances reciprocally determined.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0467.2012.00395.x

Affiliations: Geomedia, Rüütli 4, EE-51 007 Tartu, Estonia

Publication date: 2012-03-01

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