Date and location

  •   October 30, 2017 - October 31, 2017
  •   University of Karlstad, Sweden

Conference details

The past plays a crucial role in understanding, developing and implementing regional economic development policies. History reveals path dependencies in regions’ economies and informs about the successes and failures of policy instruments. As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Regional Studies Association, the RSA Research Network on Regional Economic and Policy History (ReHi) has been funded. The main objective of the network is to explore, what a historic perspective may contribute to regional studies as well as current regional policy making and how approaches and methodologies used by historians can be better integrated in the regional studies.

The historical construction of regions:  narratives, methods & challenges

Regions and localities are among the traditional loci for analysis among historians: A regional and/or local perspective facilitates access to archives and collection of archival sources. Yet, the nation state tend to remain the theoretical ‘default option’ for the historical analysis in area studies. Whether in its bottom‐top or top-down sense regionalism involves dimensions and processes which, theoretically, extend beyond the nation state. For example, regionalism within the framework of the EU involves a number of entirely new mechanisms for managing space, regional planning, and institutions. Closely tied to these processes is the construction and reconstruction of regional identities on basis of perceived legacies and heritage. History becomes important both to enhance the competitiveness of regions and to sustain social cohesion in local society. For example, many (endogenous) growth theories and policies emphasize the importance of regional institutions, which asks for insight in those factors that stimulated or hampered the development of regional institutions in the past.

We invite papers (methodological and/or case-oriented) that help us to gain insight in the ontological and methodological differences between historical and regional studies. Many historians tend to work inductively, whereas regional studies are mostly theory driven. How do historians manage the changing role and ‘narrative’ of the nation state relative to old and new regions? What can the changing role of the nation state learn us about the challenges and opportunities for region‐building in historical perspective? Which theoretical and methodological tools are necessary for understanding the dynamics of these processes?

Format of the workshop

The workshop follows the two previous workshops in building interdisciplinary connections over a two-day lunch-to-lunch programme. Key notes will be delivered by:

  • Prof Dr Martin Åberg (Karlstad University, Sweden)
  • Prof Dr Natasha Vall (Teeside University, UK)
  • Prof Dr Peter Stadius (Helsinki University, Finland)

Representatives of the institutions participating in the network will moderate the sessions.

Abstract submission

We invite colleagues to participate with original papers, especially:

Social and cultural geographers, political scientists and economists who include historical perspectives in their work
Economic historians, political historians, regional historians working on urban and regional development and researchers who focus on territorial policy history.

Please send an abstract of about 250 words and a short bio with full contact details before 15 August 2017 to:

Martin Åberg and Silke Reeploeg  (Karlstad University, Centre for Regional Studies);

Practical Information

Participation in the event is free of charge. Refreshments and beverages will be provided.

Thanks to the financial support from the RSA we will be able to offer several travel bursaries for attending the workshop. If you wish to apply for a bursary or if you have any questions regarding your eligibility, please contact the key contact of the REHi network (Marijn Molema, Fryske Akademy/Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, Please note that bursaries can only be offered to participants who are members of the RSA and fulfil one of the following eligibility criteria:

  •  are student or early career members of RSA,
  • are associate (retired) members of RSA,
  • are RSA member working in a Band B, C or D country (see

Conference Organisers

The Regional Studies Association (RSA) Research Network on Regional Economic and Policy History is organising 5 workshops and 2 special sessions from April 2017 until the spring of 2019. The network is coordinated by its four organisers: dr. Marijn Molema (Fryske Akademy/Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences); dr. Arno van der Zwet (European Policies Research Centre, University of Strathclyde); prof. dr. Martin Åberg (Centre for Regional Studies, University of Karlstad); and dr. Sara Svensson (Center for Policy Studies, Central European University). The network’s associated partners are the Barlett School of Planning, University College London (contact person: Prof. dr. John Tomaney); the University “Magna Græcia” of Catanzaro, Italy (contact person: Prof. dr. Paolo Malanima); and Delft Technical University, Netherlands (contact person: Dr Marcin Dabrowski.

Related Documents

How to get there

University of Karlstad, Sweden