Working Paper 47

Administrative Reform, Cross-Border Relations, and Regional Identity in Western Poland

Robert Parkin

Department ‘Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia’

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Working Paper 47

On 1st January 1999, Poland introduced a new structure for local and regional government. This reform raises a number of issues of interest to the anthropologist. One is the question of the development of identities in the new units, especially the sixteen new provinces, and their connection, if any, with historical precedents. I examine this topic with respect to the province of Lubuskie, in western Poland, with special but not exclusive reference to the attitudes and activities of local bureaucracies in this regard. An additional theme is the extent to which the latter are also involved in establishing and maintaining cross-border relations with towns over the border in Germany. This can be related in its turn to the wider international context of Poland's relations with, and now agreed entry into, the European Union. I explore this with reference to both the independent links of particular towns and the development in the 1990s of so-called 'Euroregions', which now extend across all of Poland's borders, as well as certain initiatives by private citizens. The paper is part of a longer term interest of the author's in the strong development of regional identities (usually but not always non-ethnic in type) in Europe in the context of the continent's growing economic, political, diplomatic and cultural integration.

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