Rural-regionalism in the 21st century: A tale of no cities

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Regions remain in flux. Their status as primary sites of governance and government is an ongoing negotiation between multiple endogenous and exogenous actors. The role of regions as drivers of economic activity and containers of socio-political identities and processes has waxed and waned in academic and policy discourse, most recently hybridized in neologistic categories such as city-regions, creative regions, resilient regions and mega-regions. There is, however, a need to find ways of foregrounding the region, of distinguishing the concept and object of analysis from its surroundings. Using mid Wales as an example, we highlight the complexities of the region and regional: as a ‘problem region’, as a changing array of administrative units, and as a ‘left behind’ territory subject to contemporary attempts to fix and fit it to the rationale of city-regional modes of governance. Framed by this analysis we reflect upon the implications of a proposed regional ‘growth deal’ and argue for a regions-first approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1439-1458
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Issue number7
Early online date30 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • city-region
  • devolution
  • historical imaginaries
  • regional development
  • regions
  • rural


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