This short paper presents some aspects of regionalisation in France in the light of different ideological contexts since the 1789 revolution and especially the permanent struggle between centralism and ‘décentralisation’. This historic perspective evokes the changing sociopolitical attitudes in France in regard to regions and their cultural diversity. In a second part, the author proposes some reflections about the conceptual use of the idea of region in Europe today in the light of its use during the French nation-building process. The paper concludes by suggesting that the region as an intermediary spatial category always appears to the anthropologist as a necessarily ambivalent category of belonging between wider inclusive and smaller included identities.
This article addresses some methodological problems related to the mapping out of cultural data and more specifically those related to so-called cultural borders and boundaries in space. The second part of the article is devoted to the Mediterranean region. For half a century, this region has been the locus of much anthropological fieldwork, and has also provoked much debate on the topic of the region surrounding a closed sea as a conceptual entity. As both the Baltic and the Mediterranean seas have been spaces of intense human relations rather than obstacles for exchange, a future anthropological comparison between these two areas may prove stimulating.