Fixed Links and Vague Discourses: About Culture and the Making of Cross-border Regions

It has been en vogue for official bodies to focus on ’culture’ as a strategic factor for the development of spatial entities such as cross-border regions in the making. This focus places high expectations and a strong belief in the power of ’culture’. In this paper I will argue that in region building processes the focus on ’culture’ is often due to an overriding wish to develop an economic well-functioning region. Moreover, it seems like ’culture’ is used as a tool to distract people from a critique of bigger infrastructure projects that such developments entail. In order to strengthen these arguments, the paper will focus on two examples from Northern Europe, the existing Danish-Swedish Øresund link as well as the planned link between Denmark and Germany across the Femernbelt. In the course of the paper, focus will be on central bodies or actors that are taking up the issue of culture within a regional context. Hence, the concept of governance, particularly that of networked governance structures as well co-governance will be briefly discussed. All in all, the paper shows the ’fragmented complexity of agency and the multitude of actors related to region building’.

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