Regional and Political Geography


…states are becoming internationally organized systems geared towards trying to separate people and circulations deemed risky or malign from those deemed risk-free or worthy of protection. This process increasingly occurs both inside and outside territorial boundaries between states, resulting in a blurring between international borders and urban/local borders. (Stephen Graham 2010)

Regional and Political Geography

Our research in Regional and Political Geography revolves, in general, around the idea of regional transformation. We start from the fact that socio-spatial structures (e.g. territories, borders), all kinds of connections, ideas, ideologies and spatial concepts are always in a perpetual, dynamic change that is related to material practices. This change increasingly occurs in a transnational world. Respectively traditional state-centric, strictly territorial views of the world are now challenged. Our research work focuses on internationally topical themes and is committed to develop further such theoretical concepts as region/territory, border, border-crossings/mobilities and control.  We therefore operate also with such classical themes as nationalism/ regionalism, governance and biopolitics.

Team members have a long track record of cutting-edge theoretical and empirical research on social construction of territories, struggles over meanings of regions and borders, identity politics, various forms of control that manifest themselves in politics, culture, economy and governance at all spatial scales. We work at and across various spatial scales in several empirical contexts: in Finland, elsewhere in the European Union, the USA and Hong Kong. Current projects work at the intersection of contemporary themes in (new) regional geography and political geography, such as neoliberalism and border governance, topological borders, securitization and biopolitics, literature and identity, and the aesthetics of warfare.

Researchers of the team have actively contributed to the development of the theoretical-methodological foundations of geography and social sciences, especially by presenting novel conceptual perspectives on such concepts as territory, region, place, space and border. Current research networks extend especially to Scandinavia, Great Britain and the USA. Researchers representing regional and political geography work in close cooperation with Regional Development and Regional Policy, and Tourism Geography Groups at the Geography Department. RELATE, the Center of Excellence nominated by the Academy of Finland (2014-2019) brings together these three departmental research teams (and the SPARG team from Tampere University) and gives synergy for our research work.


  • Professor  Anssi Paasi, PhD
  • Docent Martin Jones, PhD (Professor of Geography, University of Sheffield)
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Oliver Belcher, PhD
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Lauren Martin, PhD (Academy of Finland)
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola, PhD
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Juha Ridanpää, PhD
  • Postdoctoral Researcher Kaj Zimmerbauer, PhD
  • PhD Researcher Jonathan Burrow, MA
  • PhD Researcher Fredriika Jakola, MSc
  • PhD Researcher Joni Vainikka, MSc

Recent and ongoing research projects

  • RELATE Center of Excellence (Finnish Academy 2014-2019), Director, Professor Anssi Paasi
  • Geographies of Irony: Mikael Niemi’s literature and the renegotiation of regional identities in the Tornio Valley. Contact person: Juha Ridanpää
  • Border management, biopolitics, and narratives of border crossings" (Finnish Academy 2011-2013). Contact person: Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola
  • Mobilities, Borders, and Identity International recruitment package by Oulu University (University of Oulu 2011-2015)  Contact Person: Lauren Martin.
  • Privatizing Border Enforcement in the European Union and United States (Finnish Academy 2013-2016) Contact person: Lauren Martin
  • Region-building, boundaries and identity in a globalizing world (Finnish Academy 2008-2012). Director: Anssi Paasi, Researchers Joni Vainikka and Kaj Zimmerbauer.
  • Crossing borders, building identities: new regionalizations, tourism and everyday life in Northern Europe (Finnish Academy 2005-2009). Director Anssi Paasi, Researchers Tanja Löytynoja and Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola

Main publications since 2010

  • Belcher, Oliver (2011). The Occupied Palestinian Territories and Late-Modern Wars. Human Geography 4(1): 1-11.
  • Belcher, Oliver (2012) The Best-Laid Schemes: Postcolonialism, Military Social Science, and the Making of US Counterinsurgency Doctrine, 1947–2009. Antipode 44, 258–263.
  • Belcher, Oliver and Lauren Martin (forthcoming) Ethnographies of Closed Doors: Conceptualizing openness and closure in US immigration and military institutions. Area.
  • Johnson, Corey; Jones, Reece; Paasi, Anssi; Amoore, Louise; Mountz, Alison; Salter, Mark; Rumford, Chris (2011) Interventions on Rethinking “the Border'” in Border Studies. Political Geography vol. 30, pp. 61-69.
  • Libal, Bob and Lauren Martin, Nicole Porter. (2012). A Prison is Not a Home: Notes from the Campaign to End Immigrant Family Detention. In  Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis. Edited by Andrew Burridge, Jenna Loyd, and Matt Mitchelson. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. pp. 253-265.
  • Martin, Lauren (2010). Bombs, bodies, and biopolitics: securitizing the subject at the airport security checkpoint. Social & Cultural Geography 11(1), 17-34.
  • Martin, Lauren (2011). The geopolitics of vulnerability: children's legal subjectivity, immigrant family detention and US immigration law and enforcement policy. Gender, Place & Culture 18(4), 477-498.
  • Martin, Lauren (2012). ‘Catch and Remove’: Detention, Deterrence, and Discipline in US Noncitizen Family Detention Practice. Geopolitics 17(2), 312-334.
  • Martin, Lauren (2012). Governing through the Family: Struggles over US Noncitizen Family Detention Policy. Environment and Planning A. 44(4): 866-888.
  • Martin, Lauren (2012). “Review essay. Detaining noncitizens: law, security, crime and politics” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 30(4): 748 – 755.
  • Martin, Lauren (2013). Getting out and getting in: Legal Geographies of US Immigration Detention, in  Carceral Spaces: Mobility and Agency in Imprisonment and Migrant Detention, Edited by Domiique Moran, Nick Gill, and Deirdre Conlon. Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing. Pp. 149-166.
  • Moisio, Sami and Anssi Paasi (2013). Beyond state-centricity: geopolitics and changing state spaces. Geopolitics (forthcoming)
  • Moisio, Sami and Anssi Paasi (2013). From geopolitical to geoeconomic? The changing political rationalities of state space. Geopolitics (forthcoming)
  • Paasi, Anssi: The Region, Identity, and Power. Procedia in Social and Behavioral Sciences vol. 14 (2011), 9-16.
  • Paasi, Anssi: Regions are social constructs, but ‘who’ or ‘what’ constructs them? Agency in question. Environment and Planning A vol. 42 (2010), pp. 2296 – 2301
  • Bauder, Harald, Bernd Belina, David Butz, Ze’ev Gedalof, Arnould Lagendijk, Pierpaolo Mudu, Anssi Paasi, Nadine Schuurman, David Wilson: Critical practice of grant application and administration: an intervention. ACME: An International E-journal for Critical Geographies vol. 9:1 (2010), pp. 102-112.
  • Paasi, Anssi: Re-visiting the region and regional identity: theoretical reflections with empirical illustrations. In Barndon, Randi, Øye, Ingvild and Asbjørn Engevik jr. (eds). The Archaeology of Regional Technologies. London: The Edwin Mellen Press (2010). pp. 15-33
  • Paasi, Anssi (2011). A “Border theory”: an unattainable dream or a realistic aim for border scholars? In Wastl-Walter, Doris (editor) A Research Companion to Border Studies. Aldershot: Ashgate 2011. pp. 11-31.
  • Paasi, Anssi (2011). From region to space, part II. In Agnew John A. and James S Duncan (eds.) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Human Geography. Oxford: Blackwell (2011). pp. 161-175.
  • Paasi, Anssi (2011). Geography, space and the re-emergence of topological thinking. Dialogues in Geography. Vol. 2:3 (2011), pp. 299-303
  • Paasi, Anssi (2011). The Region, Identity, and Power. Procedia in Social and Behavioral Sciences vol. 14, 9-16.
  • Paasi Anssi & Kaj Zimmerbauer (2011). Theory and practice of the region: a contextual analysis of the transformation of Finnish regions. Treballs de la Societat Catalana de Geografia vol. 71-72 (2011), pp. 163-178.
  • Paasi. Anssi (2012) Border studies re-animated: going beyond the relational/territorial divide. Environment and Planning A 44:10, pp. 2303-2309
  • Paasi, Anssi. (2012). Regional identities. In H. Anheier, & M. Juergensmeyer (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Global Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781452218557.n451, pp. 1454-1457.
  • Paasi, Anssi (2012) Borders. In Ritzer, Georg (editor) The Blackwell Encyclopedia on Globalization, vol. I. Oxford: Blackwell-Wiley, pp. 125-126.
  • Paasi, Anssi (2013): Borders and border crossings. In Johnson, Nuala, Schein, Richard and Jamie Winders (editors): A New Companion to Cultural Geography. London: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Paasi, Anssi (2013): Borders. In Dodds, Klaus, Kuus Merje & Joanne Sharp (editors). Ashgate Companion to Critical Geopolitics. London: Ashgate).
  • Paasi, Anssi (2013): Regional planning and the mobilization of ‘regional identity’: from bounded spaces to relational complexity. Regional Studies (forthcoming), iFirst article 2012,
  • Paasi, Anssi (2013) Fennia: positioning a peripheral but international journal under the condition of ‘academic capitalism’. Fennia 191:1.
  • Paasi, Anssi and Jones, Martin (2013) Regional world(s): Advancing the geography of regions.  Regional Studies 47 (1), pp. 1-5.
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa (2011). Regionalization, Tourism Development and Partnership: The European Union's North Calotte Sub-programme of INTERREG III A North. Tourism Geographies 13 (4), 507-530.
  • Prokkola Eeva-Kaisa (2011). Cross-border regionalization, the INTERREG III A initiative, and local cooperation at the Finnish – Swedish border. Environment and Planning A 43(5), 1190-1208.
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa, Kaj Zimmerbauer and Fredriika Jakola (2012) Performances of regional identity in the implementation of European cross-border initiatives. European Urban and Regional Studies, doi: 10.1177/0969776412465629
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa (2012) Technologies of Border Management: Performances and Calculation of Finnish/Schengen Border Security. Geopolitics, DOI:10.1080/14650045.2012.685791
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa (2013) Neoliberalizing Border Management in Finland and Schengen. Antipode (forthcoming)
  • Prokkola Eeva-Kaisa & Juha Ridanpää (2011). Following the plot of Bengt Pohjanen’s Meänmaa: Narrativization as a process of creating regional identity. Social & Cultural Geography 12: 7, 775-791.
  • Ridanpää, Juha (2010). A Masculinist Northern Wilderness and the Emancipatory Potential of Literary Irony. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 17: 3, 319-335.
  • Ridanpää, Juha. (2010). Metafictive Geography. Culture, Theory and Critique 51: 1, 47-63.
  • Ridanpää, Juha (2011). Pajala as a literary place: in the readings and footsteps of Mikael Niemi. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change 9: 2, 104-118.
  • Ridanpää, Juha (2012). The Media and the Irony of Politically Serious Situations: Consequences of the Muhammed Cartoons in Finland. Media, Culture & Society. 34: 2, 131-145.
  • Ridanpää, Juha (2013). Geography and Literature. In Barney Warf (ed.): Oxford Bibliographies in Geography. Oxford University Press: New York.
  • Vainikka, Joni (2012) Narrative claims on regions: Prospecting for spatial identities among social movements in Finland. Social & Cultural Geography 13(6): 587–605.
  • Vainikka, Joni (2013) The role of identity for regional actors and citizens in a splintered region: The case of Päijät-Häme, Finland. Fennia 191:1.
  • Zimmerbauer, Kaj & Paasi, Anssi (2013). When old and new regionalism collide. Deinstitutionalization of regions and resistance identity in municipality amalgamations. Rural Studies, 30, 31-40.
  • Zimmerbauer, Kaj (2013). Unusual regionalism in northern Europe. Barents region in the making. Regional Studies, 47:1, 89-103.
  • Prokkola, Eeva-Kaisa, Zimmerbauer, Kaj & Jakola, Fredriika (2012). Directions, disjunctures and coming-togetherness: Performance of regional identity and the implementation of cross-border initiatives in the INTERREG North. European Urban and Regional Studies, DOI:10.1177/0969776412465629.
  • Zimmerbauer, Kaj, Suutari, Timo & Saartenoja, Antti (2012). Resistance in deinstitutionalization of a region. Boundaries, identity and activism in municipality merger. Geoforum, 43, 1065-1075.
  • Zimmerbauer, Kaj (2011). Conceptualizing Borders in Cross-Border Regions: Case Studies of the Barents and Ireland–Wales Supranational Regions, Journal of Borderlands Studies, 26:2, 211-229.
  • Zimmerbauer, Kaj (2011). From image to identity: building regions by place promotion. European Planning Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2, 243-260.

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Last updated: 27.7.2016