The purpose of this paper is to discuss how different kinds of representations of regions form part of the institutionalization and creation of new and older regions of today. As a result of the discourses of new regionalism, we see ongoing processes where culture and identity are seen as important parts to create strong and competitive regions, which have become more and more important for peripheral and weaker regions around Europe. Regional culture and identities are seen as part of different soft factors that are seen as strengthening the regional level and in that way contribute to the attractiveness and competitiveness of the region. It is also believed that different soft factors will strengthen the inner unity in the region and thereby lead to further development. Culture and identity have to a greater extent than before been given an economic value. By enhancing the distinctive attributes and features of a region such as culture, it is said to be more competitive in an international and national context. Different representations of the regions are used to create an image of the regions. This connection between regions and regional features could be seen as a result of a political agenda where it is the uniqueness of the region that is enhanced to create an idea of the region as a base for identity construction. By creating this attractiveness within the regions in different contexts, it exist several different representations of the regions in the same time. This altogether creates the identity of the region. Earlier it was possible to say that the marketing of regions and places mainly aimed to attract visitors, but today it is rather about attracting visitors, business, investors, new inhabitants and in scarce regions even to keep the inhabitants.
There is also an emphasis on cooperation across borders between regions in different border areas between the member states in the EU. But in the same time the regions are also seen as competitors both nationally and internationally. Different regional policy programs enhance the importance to create strong, attractive and competitive regions. But what does this actually mean? By studying different representations of two peripheral border regions in Europe, Värmland in Sweden, and Hedmark in Norway, the aim is to show different representations of how the discourse of new regionalism affects different regional policies in scarcer regions in Europe, mainly with focus on different ways of branding regions.
32nd International Geographic Congress, Cologne 2012, 26-30 August Commission: C08.13 Geography of Governance Session: Governing development in regions, cities and rural communities