The Periphery as a Complex Adaptive Assemblage

Local government and enhanced communication to challenge peripheralising narratives



Peripheralisation, Agency, Local government, Assemblage theory, Cornwall UK


Despite much time and attention by academia and policy to bring about cohesion between core and peripheral regions, still there are large disparities of wealth and outcomes. Recent literature suggests that part of the problem lies in the ways that core regions represent peripheries in discourse and practice (Willett and Lang, 2018; Willett 2016; Lang et al. 2015), meaning that peripheries need to find better ways to challenge negative core representations of place.  This paper argues that a critical ontological perspective based on Deleuze and Guattari’s (2004) affective assemblages can help to understand this phenomenon better. The paper uses this framework to explore the periphery as a complex adaptive organism –or a periphery-assemblage. Local government is identified as an important structure, potentially enhancing and facilitating better adaptation to change. Using this perspective,and a research methodology that uses creative techniques to uncover the meanings underlying performed responses, the paper takes a case study of local government in Cornwall in the South West of the UK. Research was conducted between May and June 2016. It is claimed that one way for peripheries to challenge core representations more effectively would be to enhance communications within local government, which can better channel and develop information flows within peripheral regions.

Author Biography

Joanie Mary Anne Willett, University of Exeter

Lecturer in politics


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How to Cite

Willett, J. M. A. (2019). The Periphery as a Complex Adaptive Assemblage: Local government and enhanced communication to challenge peripheralising narratives. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 18(2), 496–512. Retrieved from



Themed Section - Acting Peripheries