Kees  Terlouw Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Kees Terlouw

Assistant Professor
Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning

Identities play an important role in politics. I focus my research on the political use of identity discourses on spatial communities. These are important to legitimise political choices as beneficial and appropriate for their community. These identity discourses focus not only on the community itself – whether local, regional, national, European or global – but also on the relations with other similar communities, and also across scales.


Working on the intersections between geography, sociology and political science Kees Terlouw now focusses his work on the changing relations between identities and politics. He is especially interested in the relation between different local and regional identity discourses and how these help or hinder the pursuit of policies. Unlike the dominant political and academic frame in which identities are still seen as unchanging relics of the past which only hinder rational political deliberations, he is more interested in how local and regional identities are transformed to promote or oppose new policies.
Identity issues are crucial in political discussions about the formation of metropolitan regions, municipal amalgamations, and local development initiatives. The legitimation of these different types of policies is linked to how their policy discourses can be linked to other local, regional and national identity discourses. Traditional ‘thick’ identity discourses are commonly augmented with elements of new, forward-looking ‘thin’ regional identities. Studying the interaction between these thick and thin identities show the continuities and changes in the use of local and regional identities in politics. The selective use of existing and new elements in the construction of regional identity discourses can help to legitimise new forms of regional cooperation. Through the uploading and downloading of identities from different scale levels, especially new urban regions can construct new layered identity discourses and attempt to mobilise support from local stakeholders, although with varying degrees of success. Kees Terlouw also studies the different ways in which local and regional identity discourses are used during municipal amalgamations. He studies the emergence of thick local resistance identities opposed to amalgamation and how these conflicts can be diminished. Although the importance of these well publicised negative ways in which identities are used in politics must not be underestimated, it is much more interesting to study how identity discourses are used to foster cooperation and the pursuit of collective goals. It is therefore important to study the different ways in which local and regional identity discourses are used in local politics and regional cooperation. Kees therefore also studies how the political use of spatial identity discourses relates to policies of city marketing and branding. He has extensively published on all these topics. This is linked to policy advice and research he does for Dutch ministries and different associations of local administrations.
After studying sociology at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Kees Terlouw wrote his PhD on the geography of the world-system at the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning at the Utrecht University. He has written many publications on the relation between geography and the world-systems approach. His later work focusses more on new forms of regional cooperation and how these are legitimised. The role of identity discourses and how these relate to iconic sites, like heritage sites and flagship projects is studied in some of his publications. The relation between the past, present and future is also central in his work on the comparison between medieval and contemporary urban regions. He has also published on cross-border regions in Europe and how these affect the cross-border behaviour of ‘border surfers’. This relation between territorial borders and urban networks is also central in his recent work on how identity discourses are used in metropolitan regions in relation to their less urbanised and more conservative neighbouring municipalities. (See for more details on these and other publications: )
Working as a political geographer at the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Kees Terlouw teaches several courses on political and regional geography.


    MA in Sociology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 1985
    PhD in Geography, Utrecht University, 1992

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Political Geography, regional and local identity, new regionalisms



Featured Title
 Featured Title - Local Identities and Politics - 1st Edition book cover


All my publications:

Published: Feb 21, 2017 by
Authors: Kees Terlouw

My complete publication list