La vía transfronteriza del desarrollo local endógeno. Reflexiones teóricas y estudios empíricos en los Pirineos y en los Alpes.

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


This research aims to study the role of cross-border cooperation in endogenous local development processes in rural borderlands. The fact that the academic contributions of border studies have not developed this aspect sufficiently in-depth justifies the development of new analytical reflections in order to better understand and interpret the territorialization process from a local perspective. The study of the endogenous local development has been approached from the point of view of Italian geographical studies and, from the Territorialist approach in particular. Borderlands and border communities are conceived respectively as a "special territory" and a "special society" affected by the changing in border functions and by the changes in national, international and subnational policies. Three study cases have been selected which correspond to historical-geographical units split by the international border and which have experienced recent attempts of local cross-border cooperation. These are two mountain borderlands located respectively in the eastern Pyrenees (the Cerdanya) and in the Italian-Austrian Alps (the Wipptal), while a third is a coastal borderland located at the extreme far-east of the Iberian Peninsula (the Albera Marítima). In order to study whether cross-border cooperation reflects local challenges and needs towards endogenous and shared development of the three borderlands, the methodology combines, on one side, socio-territorial analysis to identify common elements, shared challenges and shared problems and territorial differences. However, on the other side, it also deals with the study of cross-border relationships at the local level (i.e. local relations along the border) identifying key actors and cooperation issues. The analysis of cross-border networks has demonstrated the central role of local administrations in channeling and promoting local cross-border cooperation. The combination of ambitious initiatives (INTERREG projects) - facilitated by the involvement of regional players - and the local initiatives provides a highly articulated network, which effectively generates a shared territorial capital. The choice of the study-cases in different geographic contexts revealed the ecological, socioeconomic and political specificity of the coastal borderlands. According to our analytical framework, the three study cases represent therefore three different cross-border reterritorialization processes. While local cooperation in Cerdanya is leading to progressive cross-border integration in sectors such as health and economic development, in the Albera Marítima, the weakness of cross-border networks does not represent a valid alternative for local development and to tackle common social, economic and environmental issues. In the case study of Wipptal, the implementation of a LEADER-like cross-border rural development strategy (territorial approach) represents instead an innovative approach, although it reduces the spontaneity of cross-border cooperation (which is usually based on a relational approach). We believe that this work contributes to demonstrate that, despite the dynamics of re-bordering between European countries is becoming more intense, the process of European integration is still tangible along its internal borders, where cross-border cooperation has generated important links between border communities and, in many cases, even beyond the local scale.
Date of Award18 Sept 2017
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Supervisor Margarita Castañer Vivas (Director) & Antoni Dura Guimera (Director)


  • Borders
  • Local endogenous development
  • Cross-border cooperation

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