Probably never, the question of the territory, its organization, its governance and its development has occupied such a place, in France, in the public debate. In less than two years, the number of regions has been divided by two, twenty metropolises have been created, the map of communities of municipalities in rural areas has been completely redrawn. The desertification of the countryside and the crisis of medium-sized towns and small towns were major themes of the 2017 presidential election. In early 2018, the abandonment of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project, after ten years conflict, and the evacuation operations of the Bure and Notre-Dame-des-Landes ZADs, recalled that spatial planning has become, in France today, an eminently conflictual issue.
The way our society looks at its territory is obviously affected. In the opinion, on the side of the rulers and politicians, but also on the side of those who profess to think the territory and its evolutions. If the State has converted to the idea that the territories, in the era of liberal globalization, are subject, like businesses, to competition and that the priority is to improve their competitiveness, other actors, activists ecologists or alterglobalists, small elected representatives, plead for another strategy and another way of “making territory”.
Geographers are not left out. The grid of reading which largely structured their speech and their analyzes on the French territory since the post-war period (“Paris and the French desert”, the necessity of the rebalancing) – even when it was a question of relativising or criticizing it – leaves room for a partly different grid, which still opposes two types of territory, but more exactly the same: the “metropolises” (and the peri-urban territories they polarize) and the “peripheral France”, that of “margins “Forgotten rural territories, even” ghettos “of these same cities; the territories of innovation, of connectivity, inhabited by “insiders”, able to play the game of globalization and to profit from it, and the territories left behind, inhabited by the losers of this globalization, the outsiders “.
The way in which we think about French territory is also changing, of course, as a result of the ecological crisis and the reconfiguration of territorial practices and identities. Basically, the question that is asked is which France we want for tomorrow: with what relations between urban and rural, developed spaces and protected areas, centers of large cities and suburbs, with what mobility practices, which economic activities, what mode of our energy production, what territorial organization, what degree of autonomy for our regions, what balance between French nation and regional identities? These questions also question the place of France in Europe and in the World, between identity and integration.
These are profoundly political questions, in the best sense of the word, that the FIG, faithful to its tradition of openness and commitment, will strive to enlighten, bringing together geographers and specialists in other human sciences, as well as other actors of the territory, elected representatives, associative activists, business managers and experts.
Article was written by Tony Daniels, professional content writer from the french online website bibliothequer.com with a lot of useful articles and materials to read for students.