I am interested in territorialities in complex situations involving multiple allegiances or spatialities. This has led me to work on cross-border cooperation, networked cities and relations between town and highland. At present I am analysing relations between territory and mobility, from two main angles. The first one looks at how mobile individuals relate to territory. As part of the Actus research programme, the second one analyses the relation between planning and networks and how mobility may influence spatial development. Both angles focus primarily on the poorly equipped and organized outskirts of metropolitan areas. This is an individualistic, pragmatistic approach addressing objects such as practices, spatial identities, strategies for and ways of inhabiting. Work on the connections and relations between territories and between spatialities has made me try to elaborate a concept rooted in notions of mobile territoriality and liminality. The former reflects links between the organization, lived experience and spatiality of mobility, and contrary rooted rationales. It lends substance and meaning to travel, positing that they ‘make’ territory, while showing that mobility is not rootless, inevitably linked to territorial relationships, experience and connections. Liminality may be understood as a category encompassing places of passing, transition and entre-deux. It makes us look at the boundaries and differentiations between territories with regard to their meaning, occupation and morphology. As such it is a heuristic notion for analysing in-between places in terms of their own territoriality. As a process the concept relates change of space to shifting identity. It institutes space, endorsing its use for managing or signifying social change. Lastly as an anthropological notion liminality prompts us to observe people, how they live their lives, their social standing, acts or interactions. The relation between spaces is not of an institutional or functional order, it is grasped through an individual’s engagement with a process of transition. So the concept of liminality is particularly valuable for geographers, its aim being to understand how the relation between spaces defines the objects it connects, reflecting a dual movement with spatial categories that may be dissociated and linked. So mobile territoriality and liminality offer new perspectives for relational geography.
As the scientific coordinator of the PIA Labex programme on innovation and highland territories I am particularly interested in mountain regions, particularly in the Alps, where the relation between town and highland has been changed by new territorial arrangements, notably the spread of metropolitan areas or macro-regional strategies.