Session 4a: Space and Territory, Global and Local (1)

3rd Global Conference


Friday 25th September – Monday 28th September 2009
Mansfield College, Oxford

Parochialism – Revitalization – Development: How to Build an Economic and Cultural Environment by Changing the Local Space
Dariusz Waldzinski and Eliza Chodkowska
Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland

The socioeconomic development of the 21st century towns depends on many complicated events occurring in their environment. Those especially include globalization, increasing extent and range of migration, growing concentration of population in mega-cities, growth of material consumption and an increasing threat to the public safety and the natural environment. Intensification of the phenomena has an important impact on many unfavourable processes taking place chiefly in small towns, far-away from development centres. This is particularly manifested by changes in the demographic structure, increasing structural unemployment and disintegration of the local communities.

Therefore, many towns try revitalization, i.e. renovation and giving new functions to the areas that can become the foundation for their development (e.g. monumental town centres, postindustrial or postmilitary buildings and structures).

In this article, a thesis is adopted that the development of small towns is a function of planned changes in their space. Thereby, through revitalization processes it is possible to build
a parochial socioeconomic circle deciding about the local identity that in turn is propitious to the growth of competitiveness of those centres. The authors make an attempt to show the connections between the socioeconomic and spatial development of a small town and the sphere of local culture. Those connections as well as the influence of culture aspects on the socioeconomic development is shown in the article on the example of selected small towns of the Warmian-Masurian region, lying in the north-eastern part of Poland. Many small towns of that region struggling against the problems of high unemployment, low level of economic activity, bad condition of infrastructure, etc., have tried revitalization of selected areas in the recent years, noticing the importance of culture heritage as an essential development factor.

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Sovereignty, Territory and Fluidity: Lessons from Hoganas
Alexandra Harrington
McGill University, Canada

Throughout its history, debate has swirled around the impact of the European Union on sovereignty, territorial control, and state impact. Typically, such debates have centered on the impacts of these issues on member states and member populations. Indeed, these debates – and related debates – are still very much alive in legal and political circles today.

However, little attention has been paid to the impact of the European Union on sovereignty, territorial control, and state impact in areas other than member states. A recent decision by Hoganas, a town in Sweden, suggests that more attention should be paid to such impacts. Sweden is not a part of the European Union’s Eurozone and, as such, does not use or accept the Euro as a state currency. This is national legal policy. Hoganas has an economy which is heavily dependent upon tourism, especially tourism from states which are part of the European Union and which use the Euro. In an effort to protest the Swedish legal position and to increase its tourism trade, Hoganas had declared that it will accept the Euro as a valid means of payment within its borders.

This paper will address the legal issues raised by Hoganas’ actions as they relate to the concept of territory and sovereignty in modern international law. The paper will argue that, more than just an act of defiance or financial pragmatism, Hoganas exemplifies a sense of territorial fluidity under which small political units may elect to take their own course of action, even against their own state. The cultivation of this fluidity raises important questions for law and also for society in general in terms of its impact on the concept of belonging and statehood.

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Islamic Modernity and Regionalism in early 20th Century Singapore: A Preliminary Study
Fairoz Mohamed
National University of Singapore, Singapore

Although Southeast Asia is the most populous Islamic region in the world, the area remains a periphery in Islamic studies. Furthermore, the study of Islam in the region has focused mostly on the phenomenon of Islamic ‘revivalism’ or ‘reformism’, in particular on two Muslim majority countries –Indonesia and Malaysia.

As such, this paper will focus on the origin, character and function of Islamic thought as well as organizations in neighboring Singapore in early 20th century. Although mostly neglected in the literature, colonial Singapore was the hub in the movement of Islamic ideas in Southeast Asia in early 20th century; led by domiciled Arabs and to some extent Indian-Muslims who were in turned influenced by thinkers like Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida in Egypt.

The paper argues that this period was characterized by preoccupations with the idea of ‘Islamic regionalism’, partly due to the absence of the idea of a nation-state as well as the experience of colonization. The scope of this regionalism extended to countries such as Egypt, the then-Ottoman Empire, and countries as ‘unIslamic’ as Japan. The concept of ‘regionalism’ is introduced as an alternative to the loosely used idea commonly known as ‘Pan-Islam’. I argue that ‘regionalism’ allows for a tighter conceptualization of the phenomenon; since it is bounded with the notion of identity and space.

Furthermore, Islamic regionalism in early 20th century can be construed to possess two more characteristics: (i) modernizing tendencies and (ii) utopian thoughts. A case can be made that Islamic regionalism during this period is an example of an alternative and narrower conception of globalization. The analysis of the trajectories of Islam during this period also helps to refine our understanding of some aspects of contemporary Islamic orientations, in particular the idea of ‘revivalism’ and ‘reformism’ that has increasingly been popular in the literature.