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But the par-lon concept was originally introduced in a gawc research paper (not cited by harrison and hoyler) written five years before the date of Hidalgo's letter (Halbert and pain 2009). Par-lon is represented a s a further example of endeavours to politically construct a megaregional space of engagement in order to secure certain economic interests from external threats which seek to undermine or dissolve them (235). However, halbert and pain's conceptualisation, which drew on Polynet analysis, on the contrary, reflected a de-territorialised understanding of Paris-London relations as real and actual functionally networked flow-places, or an operational implementation of Castells spaces of flows at the intra-metropolitan level (Castells 1996 …the daily practices. Halbert and pain's par-lon is indicative of actual Paris-London relations that lend credence to hidalgo's claim, demonstrating how susceptible a concept is to uncertain meanings, intentions and interpretations. This leads to three important analytical observations. First, as Harrison and hoyler observe in reflecting back on the volume, megaregions always need to be considered within the broader contours of global urban studies (238).

Importantly this essay enriches a space for contemplation that is under-attended to elsewhere in the book by reflecting on interviews with real-world megaregion actors, as opposed to simply assuming their motivations for engagement with this inter-urban functional scale. Fleming calls for research, rather than just critical commentary, to inform urban process understanding, thus delivering an important message to take from the book. Spatial Imaginaries Reconsidered Harrison and hoyler's concluding chapter (10) endeavours to draw together thinking from across the volume. The reader is reminded of the book's intended focus on the who, how where and why of megaregions, in short, on questions of agency, process and specific interests (230). However the bold editorial decision to single out one spatial concept for attention and critique, the megaregion, inevitably conditions the lines of discussion here: this compelling narrative only tells part of the story (237). Us cali baja hampton roads-Richmond' (231 - 234 and European par-lon' (234 - 236) cases are introduced as examples of recent political projects invoking new megaregional frames for territorial rescaling. But the paris-London, par-lon, imaginary, speculated here to be a new political space of engagement, serves to illustrate the importance of Harrison and hoyler's final reminder at the close of the book that a powerful imaginary must be treated carefully (251). Par-lon is not so new and is not such an empty French territorial political fabrication as is suggested (235). The megaregions-critique' lens employed here only tells part of the story. Citing an open letter in 2014 from Paris Deputy mayor, Anne hidalgo, to boris Johnson, london earhart mayor, par-lon is proposed by harrison and hoyler as an imaginary that is representative of Paris reaching out to london, much like cali baja is reaching out to san.

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Geographic exigencies (changing geographic patterns and spatial dynamism) run alongside political exigencies (interregional competition and spatial rescaling). According to Glass, together, these exigencies preclude the using development of the megaregion scale as a governable reality, as illustrated in his overview of regional government and governance in Western Pennsylvania and the Great lakes area of the. The issue of scale is next approached in a european context by lukas Smas and Peter Schmitt (Chapter 7) who present the case of the construction of Norden a specifically cross-border regional imaginary supported by european policy (158 - 159). An emergent Baltic sea macro-region presents further exemplification of ways in which soft, networked, space is being bordered' in line with national and European political agendas. This essay is particularly strongly empirically informed and, at the same time, it engages with theoretically important questions first raised by Brenner about the role of policy framing in the invention of re-scaled megaregion spaces intended to enhance europe's global competitiveness (Brenner 1999; Brenner and. Zhang's China example (Chapter 8) is a similarly unpretentious account of the state of research knowledge in the case of the pearl river Delta. The essay provides a useful contrast to the us and European contexts, illustrating the importance of research in uncovering nuanced megaregion processes and dynamics. It both depicts Chinese urban regionalisation as a historically and politically shaped process and urges that distinctions between specific situations be subject to rigorous empirical investigation to inform responses to real development challenges in rapidly urbanising countries like china. Finally, back to the us context, Fleming's essay in Chapter 9 also stands out as empirically well-informed.

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Unusually within this volume, the essay engages directly with real-world material and (fractured) planning and governance dilemmas (100 onwards) however there is a danger of over-simplifying urban processes by proposing un-contextualized policy prescriptions (see 114). One size fits all' planning solutions imply the existence of a generalised regionalization process independent of local historical and geo-political contexts. Clearly, nuanced processes require nuanced responses. The final four invited essays reflect their authors' experience of immersion in empirical regional analysis, adding an important research practice dimension to the collection. In Chapter 6, michael. Glass takes the focus on governance forward beyond Wheeler's emphasis on policy strategies. In contrast, he highlights that there is no capacity to enact a new regional governance framework at any scale detached from the inherited and often overlapping political, social, and economic geographies of those spaces will (120).

Taylor and pain's, 2007, analysis did not appear by magic in the wide-eyed hysteria engendered by globalization that Schafran refers to (75) after all! Wheeler's essay (Chapter 5) is an unexpected contribution to this book in that it looks back to the deep green' environmentalist perspective of the nineteen seventies. Rare within this volume is positive reference to some big urban regions including London (99). On the other hand, the interrelationships between such agglomerations, the regional globalization process, and local and sustainable communities (97) required carefully considered fleshing out. For example, wheeler proposes a need for growth management (99) for which greenbelt' and reduced commuting strategies are prescribed (114). But, as the polynet research revealed, urban containment policies for London and the randstad, netherlands, (both referred to by Wheeler as regional growth management successes) have proved unable to halt the emergence of functionally interconnected urbanised spaces extending far beyond their metropolitan boundaries with high. Vibrant Jacobsian urban growth processes can leap over urban green belts as they do japanese mountains (Taylor and pain 2007).

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Schafran's essay (Chapter 4) presents a polemical view of (presumed by Schafran) under-historicized academic research that has fed the megaregion imaginary and it's (assumed by Schafran) variants (75). One example, the 2003-06. Polynet : Sustainable management of European Polycentric Mega-city regions' study (briefly introduced by harrison and hoyler, 16-17) is singled out for particular scrutiny (Hall and pain 2006). Led by the late sir Peter Hall and Kathy pain (this author) in the uk, this research investigated the aforementioned multi-centre pur imaginary in North West Europe from a novel functional perspective which incorporated Globalization and World Cities Network' (gawc) world city network analysis' pioneered. By exploring, quantitatively and qualitatively, multi-scale business, informational and travel networks and flows that are interconnecting towns and cities physically and virtually in mega-city region' spaces, polynet shed light for the first time on the pur as characterised by distinctive morphological and functional processes. But, regrettably, schafran does not refer to the range of work reported on by the international research team, which includes important findings on pur uneven geographies and differences, and their policy implications. He therefore expresses surprise to have discovered that in one of the many ironies of megaregional research, it is from a generally ignored piece by two of global cities theory's greatest protagonists (76 taylor and Kathy pain (this author that an insightful process analysis.

Schafran seems to assume that the analysis appeared by magic from a hail of numbers, rankings and schematic maps that overshadows what is happening on the ground (78). Nevertheless, three case studies are introduced to illustrate the piece's practical use in advancing mega-regional research (78). A number of Polynet insights re-emerge here, for example, megaregions should be defined in part by the fact that their urban networks exceed any attempts to unify them politically and likely always will (86) and as a functional process inseparable from historicized urbanization (90). According to Schafran, ludovic Halbert's agentur Paris analysis for example, does not, but should, combine political-historical and economic analysis (81). However this criticism seems unduly harsh given that Halbert explores political influences on the development of the paris region since the publication of jean-François Gravier's Paris et le desert français (1947, cited by halbert 2006, 189) and also makes reference to work by Frederic Gilli. It can only be assumed that Schafran has not studied Halbert's research in detail, in particular his 2006 paper entitled T he polycentric City region That never Was. It is not so surprising that they agree that Paris is not truly polycentric and likely never will be (83) since the process framework that Schafran employs in his The Island of France' example was identified by the polynet research, and Halbert's contribution.

The importance of language, communication and discursive interaction is highlighted (39) but so too is the need to be concerned with the materiality of real-world problems (43). Hesse's call for balanced attention to dialectical and material considerations is especially pertinent in light of the danger (later referred to in Chapter 9 by billy Fleming) that critical analysis may demote the importance of taking seriously research into new spaces for urban analysis. A line of thinking not pursued here however is the possibility that understanding evolving relationships between urban imaginaries, political projects, and material real-world problems, may actually be assisted by reference to a particular globalization rationale, the rationale of qualitative socio-technological transition (Pain and Van Hamme. After all, mumford's (anti-mega) dystopic vision of the very large city (36) resonated with that of Ebenezer Howard, creator of the social' or Garden City' multi-centre urban vision. Yet this multi-centre or polycentric' imaginary was later to be used in economic boosterism strategies at diverse territorial scales.


From the randstad' netherlands project that began in 1958 (Lambregts 2006) to later Europe-wide promotion of the polycentric urban region' (PUR) (Pain 2011a) and recent cross-border' regional constellations (see also Chapter 7 the multi-centre imaginary has, on the one hand, been subject to political manipulation. Evolving urban processes, communicative structures and material realities, are interactive over time hence attention to the local-global construction of space matters. Following Hesse's lead, both david Wachsmuth (Chapter 3) and Alex Schafran (Chapter 4) similarly take a purposeful historical approach to evaluation and critique of the megaregion as over-generalised conceptually. Focusing on the us in Chapter 3, wachsmuth engages critically with us policy discourse, highlighting megaregions as strategic terrains in which a multitude of differently scaled competitiveness strategies are being enacted (52). He helpfully provides a detailed and reflective analysis of urbanised spaces as both internally and externally connected, simultaneously both city and urban network (51-52 a line of thinking that could have valuably been developed in Harrison and hoyler's concluding chapter (10). Importantly he also questions the prevalent notion that megaregions have agency as competitive global economic actors. On the contrary, even when megaregions are strongly promoted, they are typically politically fragmented, contested spaces, as Stephen. Furthermore, wachsmuth draws attention to the critical relevance of understanding distinctions between different sources of megaregion functional connectivity (important also for xu zhang, Chapter 8 for example, the connectivity generated primarily by manufacturing production and/or by advanced producer services. The essay has an important role in the book in attending to the megaregion as an imaginary that is simultaneously politically constructed and at the same time an outcome of active urban processes.

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In consequence, unravelling the power of the megaregion as a globalization reality and/or narrative is essentially problematic. Megaregions presents an excellent collection of spatial imaginary cameos drawn from the us and beyond, together with theoretically searching and provocative commentary from its editors. However the reader new to this field of regional analysis and discourse especially, must therefore be critically alert methodologically and dialectically in traversing its varied attempts to pin down the foundations, frailties and futures of megaregional you research (4). The megaregions Essays, markus Hesse (Chapter 2) opens up the conversation about mega-' region conceptualisation at a theoretically high-level by exploring its linked metaphorical and representational epistemologies. His fluent analysis draws attention to the significance of mega-narratives, including the globalization rationale (43 add in the (unhelpful) construction of essentialist representations of space. This essay therefore usefully positions the megaregion in the longstanding spatial narrative that aligns competitiveness with size. Hesse's constructivist thinking provides a discursive theoretical context for the contributions that follow.

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An obvious editorial challenge has clearly been posed by the decision to make just one spatial concept (mainly associated with one country) the focus of attention. As Harrison and hoyler discuss in conclusion, privileging megaregions over other spatial imaginaries presents a compelling narrative that only tells part of the story (237) and this is especially problematic given the insistent editorial focus on more critical analyses of megaregions, megaregionality and the. Although the problem is dealt with to an extent by reference to megaregionalism as a political strategy (which potentially has far-reaching significance the question to what extent alternative concepts and constructs are simply megaregion variants and to what extent they represent distinctive development and/or geo-political. Furthermore the megaregion is not simply a home-grown us imaginary, homework so determining its real symbolic influence beyond the us is self-evidently challenging. Gottman's megalopolis introduced to the us an interpretation of mega-urbanisation as part of the solution to its social and economic problems, breaking away from antecedents that had highlighted it as a threat to civilisation. But, as Harrison and hoyler point out, the modern us megaregion has also borrowed ideas from recent European spatial planning thinking (Mehlbye 2000; Faludi 2002). And the travel of ideas, and their direction over time, between actors and places, is fundamentally important to understanding the positioning of spatial concepts and their academic and policy invocations - in other words, the who, the how and the why of megaregions -.

beyond its us academic and geo-political framing is, not surprisingly, not straightforward. In the introductory chapter to the volume harrison and hoyler present a useful typology of common concepts and analytical approaches (seen as megaregion variants 810) followed by brief discussion of some basic distinctions, commonalities and deficiencies. Setting analytical parameters was understood to be important because it ensures that as researchers we begin with the same objects under our consideration (237). Contributing authors were expected to consider, first, how robust are the foundations of megaregion conceptual construction; second, the methodological challenges of researching megaregions; and, third, whether megaregions really are globalization's new urban form and, if not, whether there are more suitable spatial frameworks (22). The intention is to advance critical analysis beyond consideration of the what and where, to the who, the how and the why of megaregions (22-23). Nonetheless, the difficulty of providing a comparative dimension to analysis beyond the introduction in an edited volume is plainly evident. Harrison and hoyler draw out some key threads emerging from the collection in their conclusion however the detail of divergences between what seem, superficially, to be similar extant urban processes and territorial constructions presenting in different situations, is not covered systematically across the essays. An intellectual challenge for the reader then is to establish the significance, or not, of potential theoretical and empirical specificities and nuances, important in rigorous analysis of a chaotic concept (4).

Representations of urbanisation processes even back then, highlighted the growth of the world's major cities as not simply a question of increasing size but of global constitution (Pain 2017). However Harrison and hoyler stress at the outset that the reader should heed August Hecksher's warning of fifty years ago that an awe-inspiring spatial concept can allow dangerous misconceptions to take root (1).They re-apply hecksher's prophetic anxiety about the dramatic power of Gottman's mid-twentieth century. In line with Gottman's prediction that the interwoven urban formation of 25 million population on the us north Eastern seaboard was the beginning of a new American urban demographic, a rash of twenty first century megaregions expected to represent more than 70 per cent. According to harrison and hoyler, all the excitement whipped up by the populist narrative of new millennium regional globalization' has led this iconic us-style megaregion to become regarded as the globally competitive urban form of the future (for example, ohmae 1999; Scott 2001; Porter 2001;. The starting premise for the book then is that the power of the megaregion as the symbol of economic competitiveness has triggered an international epidemic of megaregion imaginings, reflecting a naïve assumption that this new phenomenon can be easily delineated and so used to territorial. Its editors are well equipped to provide an innovative addition to the literature on this subject, combining Harrison's theoretical fluency in debate on the meaning and existence of the region and hoyler's hands-on experience of European urban and regional empirical analysis. Critical insights into territorial rescaling introduced to geo-political discourse by neil Brenner are drawn on to inform a distinctive mission for the volume: to shed light on the construction of the megaregion, academically and politically (see for example Brenner 1998a, b, 1999; Brenner 2004, 2009). Organised in ten chapters, a central purpose then is to dig deep in unearthing and exposing the megaregion as a fuzzy twist and generally too simplistically defined and researched concept invoked as a competitive device in the us and beyond. Frailties - the volume, the bold assertion for critical analysis in the volume is that the megaregion constitutes globalization's new urban form.

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This Research Bulletin has been published. Doi: Please wood refer to the published version when"ng the paper (z. Pain, geographical review Essay, edited by john Harrison and Michael hoyler, xi and 270.; diagrs.; tables; index. K.: Edward Elgar, 2015. Positioning Megaregions - foundations. From the multiplicity of terminologies used to describe the emerging functional scales and composition of t he world's twenty first century urban landscapes, john Harrison and Michael hoyler have taken a prominent United States (US) term as the title for their edited volume of essays. This decision goes a long way in explaining their mission: to de-bunk megaregions can-do, hype and hysteria, recently popularised by American cult urban writers. Yet, as the book's contributing authors frequently point out, the imaginary linked to the contemporary megaregion has in reality been in emergence for decades, dating back to the early twentieth century ideas of Patrick geddes and their later us re-working by lewis Mumford, jean Gottman.


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