Christophe Sohn (ed.): Luxembourg. An Emerging Cross-border Metropolitan Region. Brussels 2012. 313 pp.
For decades, the city of Luxembourg has been marvelled at for its outstanding economic success based on comparative advantages of service specialisation for international customers. This book, whose chapters have mainly emerged from the nationally funded collaborative research project METROLUX, explores various facets of Luxembourg’s recent dynamics, discussing its alleged ‘metropolitan’ qualities and border-transcending influences. An overarching introduction by the editor Christophe Sohn, on the one hand, and concluding remarks by the reputed expert on border regions Bernard Reitel, on the other one, set the framework for a selection of eleven chapters by various authors from Luxembourg, France and Germany, most of them urban or economic geographers.
The introduction (C. Sohn) points out the wider conceptual and political context of ‘cross-border metropolitan regionalisation’ and embeds the book’s topic in relevant academic debates. Employing a critical and reflective view on Luxembourg’s ‘metropolitan’ features, the author succeeds in setting the stage for a fairly honest and – in the sense of an analytical perspective – ‘objective’ taking of stock of the genesis and situation of the urban economy and functions. The first set of chapters, which capture ‘metropolitan centralities’, provide accounts of the development of the knowledge economy in Luxembourg (O. Walther), of the city’s financial services cluster (O. Walther and C. Schulz) and of international perceptions of its characteristics and symbolic values (R. Bläser, M. Gensheimer and C. Schulz). The next part offers some insights into ‘cross-border interdependencies’ of Luxembourg. It includes attempts at determining and mapping variants of the cross-border functional region of Luxembourg urban area (A. Decoville and C. Sohn), using mobility patterns for identifying cross-border peri-urbanisation (P. Gerber, O. Klein and S. Carpentier) and social polarisation dynamics (S. Lord and P. Gerber), and analysing cross-border demographic integration from a comparative angle (O. Walther). The third part is devoted to ‘governance stakes and strategies’, revealing power constellations and approaches that aim at purposefully shaping and constructing a ‘metropolitan cross-border’ Luxembourg. After a description of essential governance structures of the Greater Region and cross-border metropolis (C. Lamour and F. Clément), the role of city networks for cross-border metropolitan governance (E. Auburtin) and challenges for national spatial development policy (A. Decoville) are explored. A debate on how to manage scalar restructuring for the sake of intentionally building a cross-border metropolitan region (C. Sohn and O. Walther) pulls various strings together before the concluding chapter (B. Reitel) returns to an overarching, evaluative perspective on Luxembourg’s emergence as a ‘paradoxical metropolis’.
While the book can only selectively explore some facets of a broad and complex field of dynamic interdependencies, it still manages to pick up processes that are highly illustrative and representative of the wider picture. Especially the insights derived from thorough statistical analysis are of great value to any researcher working on the currently ‘trendy’ topics of (constructed) European metropolisation and cross-border integration. Delivering also rich cartographical material on Luxembourg, this book will contribute to an even better placing of the city as a model case for a cross-border metropolis in the minds of Europeans.