Real Existing Regionalism: The Region between Talk, Territory and Technology


In this essay, we propose the notion of real existing ‘lived’ regionalism as a rejoinder to the normative and ideological debates around new regionalism. Regional forms have shown little convergence in this age of globalized regionalization. Instead of an ideational construct or set of predictable practices, we argue that regionalism is a contested product of discourses (talk), territorial relationships (territory) and technologies (material and of power). The concept of real existing regionalism confronts the tensions between the discursive constructions and normative interventions characterizing much current regionalist debate and the territorial politics and technologies reflecting, generating and directing new state spatial strategic choices. The essay demonstrates the utility of the real existing regionalism framework through an analysis of the greenbelt, transport planning and post- suburbanization in Southern Ontario. We argue that regulatory institutions capture the Toronto region in a mix of rhetorical and technological change that complies with neither preconceived notions of regionalization nor the pessimism of total regional dysfunctionality. Rather, the lived experience of regionalization illuminates the emergent assemblages, multiplicity of everyday flows and ongoing multiscalar negotiations of diverse communities that produce the real existing region.