Much of the force of contemporary regionalism in Europe derives from its critique of a hegemonic political culture which characterizes states without a devolved structure of power. There is now a widespread perception that only a regional framework for political, cultural, and economic activity can overcome the rigidities of the nation-state or, for that matter, of bureaucratic centralism in Brussels. This book investigates whether a sense of regional identity, defined by economic criteria, can be discerned on the southern Upper Rhine in the period from the mid-fifteenth to the late sixteenth century. It examines whether natural regions and frontiers exist at all, and if so, how they should be defined. It also considers the economic structure of the Upper Rhine in the light of competition over resources and their distribution. It applies theories of centrality to see whether they can explain the incidence of rural competition in crafts and marketing for the traditional urban centres.
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