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Linking up the Alps

How networks of local political actors build the pan-Alpine region

Cristina Del Biaggio

The signing of the Convention on the protection of the Alps (Alpine Convention) by the Alpine States in 1991 heralded new practices and perspectives. This transnational project is intended to solve important challenges faced by the Alpine population. Convinced that the Alpine Convention should fulfil its potential, some non-governmental organizations and some active persons created networks of local political actors to connect local representatives, researchers, managers of protected areas and ecological associations. These were designed to realize a sustainable pan-Alpine region. This book endeavours to understand how and why local political actors, organized in pan-Alpine networks, chose to take mountain regions in general, and the Alps in particular, as the shared frame of reference for their involvement. It explores if and how a pan-Alpine identity detached from and/or combined with the more «traditional» national identities is developing among and enacted by local political actors engaged for the Alpine Convention. It also analyzes the socio-political significance of local political actors’ involvement in the newly constituted pan-Alpine networks.

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5. Regional objectivation and identification

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125 5. Regional objectivation and identification In this chapter, I start presenting evidence from the fieldwork to sup- port the theoretical framework fleshed out in chapter 2. The struc- ture of this chapter will have two parts that follow my conception of identity as a double feature comprising processes of objectivation and identification. In the first part, I show how local political actors objectivize the Alpine region. The aim is to detect and analyse the different kinds of images that local political actors use to frame the Alpine region. First- ly, I analyse how local political actors think of the Alps as a unique mountain range. Then, I underline the intrinsic qualities that the local political actors attribute to this continuous space: its aesthetic, nostal- gic, economic and ecologic values. In the second part, I frame the ob- jectivation process presented in the first part with the ways in which local political actors identify with this objectivized Alpine space. 5.1 Regional objectivation In this research, the map of the Alpine Convention sets the territo- rial framework, as the projects of the pan-Alpine networks are tak- ing place within its borders. I will therefore show how local political actors assume the identity of this Alpine region’s framework, namely the features of nature, culture and inhabitants that distinguish one re- gion from others (Paasi, 2009: 469). In other words, I illustrate which social image of the Alps (Avanza and Laferté, 2005: 143) the promot- ers of the pan-Alpine initiatives espouse...

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