Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out




Kees Terlouw
Urban and Regional research centre Utrecht
Faculty of Geosciences
Utrecht University
The Netherlands

Home page

1      Introduction

Charisma is reduced in everyday vernacular to an attribute of an individual. In the social
sciences charisma is mostly linked to leadership. The relation between charisma and leadership
is the subject of hundreds of scientific articles, according to a quick search in the Scopus
database. The contributions to this conference also analyse dozens of different instances of
charismatic leadership in different national contexts. The nation-state is still an important
spatial context for charismatic leadership. But charisma has also more direct links with space.
        Charisma is predominantly linked to individuals, but sometimes charisma is used as an
attribute of other entities. Several contributions to this conference link it to nationalistic
movements. Some contributions link it to religion, ideologies, or youth movements. Charisma
is than extended from a property of an individual to a property of a collective. This collective is
always linked to space. Sometimes space itself becomes part of charisma. The success of local
business elites to reinvigorate local economies can be linked to the charisma of localities (Peck
1995). Regional charisma is also used to partly explain the success of prosperous industrial
regions like Sillicon Valley (Appold 2005). Others use the charisma of the long established
group in a specific neighbourhood to explain the rivalries and power relations between local
groups. Charisma is then linked to both social groups and the spaces in which they live (Elias &
Scotson 1965; Terlouw et al. 2008; Oosterbaan 2009). Spaces and places themselves can also
be charismatic. Cities are sometimes analysed as charismatic (Savitch 2010; Hansen &
Verkaaik 2009). The open spaces and possibilities of frontiers can also have charismatic
properties (Gray 1999). Even nonhuman spaces as comets (Olson & Pasachoff 2009),
ecosystems (Duarte et al. 2008) and recognizable species in complex ecosystems like Panda’s
(Sergio et al. 2006; Lorimer 2006, 2007) can be charismatic. These objects get their charisma
from the special qualities attributed to these nonhuman objects by humans. Their charisma is
based on being out of the ordinary. In this second relation between charisma and space,
spatial objects have been attributed with charismatic characteristics. Their charisma is used to
emphasise and explain the special role these objects have in social life. Charisma is then used
as a characteristic of a spatial object, but the charisma of space is not systematically studied.
Charisma is also reduced to a static property of an object and not as a dynamic process linked
to changing power structures. The next section shows that this is central to how Max Weber
used charisma.
        This paper explores the relation between charisma and space more systematically. It
started by demonstrating the relevance of relating space and charisma. The discussion above
showed that others have already linked charisma and space. Our geographical perspective on
charisma is further legitimised by recent developments in geography which challenges the
modernist opposition between nature and society. After the cultural turn, geography now re-
materialises and focuses more on human-nonhuman interaction. This challenges the
conceptualisation of charisma as an innate, God-given human property. Spaces can also have
charisma. Nonhuman charisma has been defined as the distinguishing property of nonhuman

entities or processes that determine its perception and evaluation by humans (Lorimer 2007,
        This paper proceeds as follows. First, we revisit Weber’s conceptualisation of charisma
and show how this is related to other types of regimes. We then focus on the role of space in
the process of emergence and transformation of charisma. This is elaborated and systemised
in a typology of the different types of relations between charisma and space. This brings us to
the important differentiating role of time. History and future are also crucial in the different
ways the charisma of space is used to legitimise regimes. Charismatic places with a link to the
charismatic past are frequently used to legitimise traditional regimes. Similarly, bureaucratic
regimes tend to use charismatic places of the future to legitimise their rule. This paper ends by
analysis the empirical complexities of these more ideal typical legitimisations, by analysing the
charisma of the Zeche Zollverein in the Ruhr Area in Germany. These real life examples show
how the Weberian ideal typical distinctions between traditional and bureaucratic regimes get
mixed in practice.

2      Weber on the relation between charisma and political regimes

Max Weber was very interested in the functioning of religious sects. He studied them as the
archetype of social groups (Weber 1980, XVI). Through this interest in religion he became
familiar with the theological concept of charisma, which refers to the Devine gift of grace
Christians receive due to their faith in God. Weber introduced charisma in the social science by
applying it to issues of power, mobilisation and legitimation. Charisma is together with rational
and traditional one of the ideal typical forms of “Herrschaft”. This is sometimes mistakenly
translated as a form of power. Weber however distinguishes between power (“Macht”) -
imposing one will against the will of the other – and authority (“Herrschaft”) which is accepted
as legitimate by all parties. Translating it with authority however reduces the concept too
much to an individual trait. “Herrschaft” is much more a social concept; it refers to the social
structure of political control and influence. It also refers more to the organisational and spatial
process and practice of exercising influence. “Herrschaft” is not perpetual and unchanging, but
it transforms over time. The three types of “Herrschaft” Weber identifies are ideal types. Real
examples combine aspects of these ideal types. Regime catches better these different aspects
of “Herrschaft”. It is a better, although not perfect translation.
        Traditional or patrimonial regimes are based on long established rules. These rules give
the regime of the traditional ruler legitimacy. They enable him to rule, but also limit to some
extent his actions. The legitimacy of rational or bureaucratic regimes is based on the
impersonal rule of law to achieve agreed upon ends. Whereas traditional regimes are based on
morality (“wertrational”), bureaucratic regimes are based on efficiency (“zweckrational”). Thus
while the legitimacy of traditional regimes is based on the past success, the legitimacy of
bureaucratic regimes is based on future results (Weber 1980, 124). Both traditional and
bureaucratic regimes are strongly institutionalised and predictable. They manage everyday life
and give the population political and material security (Weber 1980, 654). These regimes thus
also govern a territory.
        In contrast charisma starts as an unbounded and unorganised event initiated by the
emergence of a charismatic leader. Charisma is a fundamentally different type of regime. It is
based on a sudden overthrow of the established order. This is mostly the case when the
established order is in crisis, especially during war. This revolution is based on a charismatic
leader whose many followers push the established order aside. One individual, at a special
moment in time and at a specific place overthrows a long-established order which influences
all aspects of life. It is based on an extraordinary individual who through the sudden
mobilisation of other individuals creates a new legitimate regime. The charismatic leader is
successful in the overthrow of the old regime and the legitimisation of the new regime, while
he has extraordinary saintly, supernatural, exemplary or heroic characteristics. These
characteristics become charismatic through their recognition by others (Weber 1980, 124,
140-142, 654-655). Charisma is thus not an individual, but a social phenomenon. Its
legitimacy is based on the charisma of its leader on his “ausseralltäglichen Hingabe an die
Heiligkeit oder Heldenkraft oder Vorbildlichkeit einer Person und der durch sie offenbarten oder
geschaffenen Ordnungen“ (Weber 1980, 124).
        Charismatic regimes are inherently unstable and become over time more like
bureaucratic or traditional regimes. Charismatic regimes exist only in ideal typical purity when
the old regime is toppled „die charismatische Herrschaft, die sozusagen nur in statu nascendi
in idealtypischer Reinheit bestand, ihren Character wesentlich ändern: sie wird traditionalisiert
oder rationalisiert“ (Weber 1980, 143). This transformation of charismatic regimes is
stimulated by several mechanisms. Mobilisation of followers becomes more succesful through
organisation and bureaucratisation. Attending to the practical needs of the population also
forces the charismatic regime to become more mundane. Feeding its followers calls for rational
decisions based on functionality which are at loggerheads with the irrational otherworldliness
of charisma. Also the succession of the charismatic leader further transforms charismatic
regimes. Charismatic regimes tend to develop into traditional regimes (Weber 1980, 143-148,
661-681, 821-824). „Charisma wird dann in das Gegenteil ihrer Anfangswirkung verkehrt„
(Weber 1980, 148). Charisma is than transformed from a regime to a source of legitimation for
other types of regimes. Traditional regimes can be legitimised through their charismatic
origins, especially through the line of succession from the charismatic founder to the present
traditional ruler. But although the charismatic regime is the opposite of a bureaucratic regime
(Weber 1980, 655), charisma can also be used to legitimise these kinds of regimes.
Bureaucrats can be legitimised through their special education, especially when this education
is linked to specific charismatic places away from daily life (Like in Oxford and Cambridge).
Some bureaucratic institutions can become legitimised through a kind of institutional charisma.
This is frequently linked to elections. The problem of succession of the charismatic leader is
sometimes solved through elections. When the electorate is wide enough this can transform
charismatic regimes into democracies. The election of officials of bureaucratic regimes
legitimises their rule through the charisma of democratic procedure (Weber 1989, 680, 155-

3      The charismatic regime and space: What is the role of space in the
       process of the emergence and transformation of charismatic regimes?

Although the spatial aspects of charisma are not explicitly discussed by Max Weber, the
development of charisma is linked to space. The charismatic leader acquires his charismatic
characteristics ideal typically outside the territory controlled by the established regime.
Charismatic leaders are mostly outsiders, whose charismatic traits have been formed outside
the established regime and separate from their later followers. They tend to come from outside
the space where everyday life takes place. Especially the desert has produced many prophets.
Many charismatic leaders have developed their charisma through isolation and sacrifice. Their
sudden entrance from the outside is mostly an important impetus for the overthrown of the
established regimes which controls a large territory and where power is concentrated in the
city. Many charismatic national leaders came from outside the national (core) territory. To
name just a few, Napoleon came from Corsica, Hitler from Austria, and Stalin from Georgia.
Their entrance from the outside not only helped the acceptance of their charisma by their
follower. They were also very motivated to overthrow the regime, as their position as outsiders
hindered their career in the established regime [1].
        The next phase is the recognition of charisma by others. The prophet moves out of the
desert and enters the territory of the established regime and gains disciples. Large sections of
the population are persuaded to follow the charismatic leader. The charismatic person or idea
gain a strong foothold and start to challenge the established order. Charisma is not an
individual characteristic, but a social phenomenon. It always takes place in a social setting
which is related to space. Charismatic persons are charismatic in their socio-spatial-temporal
context. These contexts were predominantly linked to the nation state. The Western European
states were very successful in organising especially the politics of society within their territorial
framework. The influence of most charismatic leaders is thus limited to their national context.
Charisma can sometimes break out of the national context. It can destroy established
territories and attempt to create new large territorial regimes, like Bolivar, Hitler and
Napoleon. It can also split territories through separation [2].
        Some, not all, charismatic movements succeed in the overthrow of the established
regime. This revolutionary success takes place at the centre. The charisma of the prophet
becomes the basis of a new regime when the prophet conquers the central city. After its
success, the charismatic movement must institutionalise its power. It must be rolled out
over the whole territory. During this process the charismatic movements must adopt ever
more characteristics of traditionalist and bureaucratic regimes. It transforms from a dynamic
localised event to an organised territory. After the institutionalisation and transformation into a
more traditional or more bureaucratic regime, the charismatic past is still used to legitimise
the regime.

4       A typology of the relations between space and charisma

Everyday life in the here and now of established regimes contrasts with the sudden entrance of
a charismatic leader from the outside. The spatial charisma stuck on the charismatic leader
through his entrance from the outside was already discussed above. This section gives an
overview of other forms of spatial charisma. Table 1 identifies five types of spatial charisma
which are outside the everyday life in the here and now of established regimes.

Table 1       Different types of spatial charisma in time and space

          Past                            Present                                Future
 Here     Monument and heritage site      Uncharismatic space of the             Futuristic place
                                          everyday life in the here and now
                                          of established regimes
 Away     Place of pilgrimage             Health spa                             Promised land
                                          Site of special education

        The sites linked to the charismatic past of the present traditional regime can become
protected and transformed into heritage sites. These are mostly not places where important
charismatic events took place, but which are branded by the present regime to signify its
charismatic past. They are imagined charismatic sites. Westminster Abbey, where the English
Monarchs are crowned is an example of these charismatic heritage sites. Similarly the statues
of Joan of Arc in French towns link present day France with the charismatic leadership of Joan
of Arc who was a charismatic leader in the struggle for French independence.
        Places of pilgrimage can emerge when these charismatic sites are further away from the
population centres. Pilgrims to these holy sites not just travel in space, but also travel
backwards in time to the original charisma of the past. Pilgrims to a holy site relive to some
extent the charisma of the founder of the present regime. These holy places are frequently
seen as more pure than the messy present. Holy places are thus distant in both time and place
from the more problematic present. Voyages in space to visit the original places of charisma
are thus also voyages in time. These can have a semi-religious character. Battle fields of the
American war of independence against the British are for instance pilgrimage sites for those
who want to relive the charisma of the American Revolution. Most real life examples only
partly fit in this ideal typical category. The heroism attached to lost battles like the battle of
Kosovo and the battle of the Alamo in San Antonio Texas can also give charisma to those
places. Not only battlefield, but also places of refuge can become charismatic. The Greek
orthodox monasteries in Meteora located on isolated hilltops, became during the Ottoman rule
of Greece a heritage site for Greek nationalists who wanted to rediscover the true and
unspoiled Greek orthodox belief. It was seen as a refuge for true Greek national charisma. But
also monuments on sites without a charismatic history can become charismatic places of
pilgrimage. For instance the monument of Kaiser Wilhelm, the first ruler of the German
Empire, erected in the hills close to the river Weser in Porta Westfalica has some spatial
charisma. Although no battles were fought there and the Kaiser had even never even visited
the place, it was a popular site to visit and remember the good old days of the beginning of the
German Empire. The charisma of the site was not only based on the huge statue of Kaiser
Wilhelm, but also on the German landscape of a river in a hilly countryside with picturesque
towns (Lissner 1998).
        Distance from the everyday life of established regimes can also be the basis of present
charismatic spaces. Many prestigious centres of education are located somewhat outside the
main cities. Crucial strategic meetings are frequently held during retreats in faraway places.
Distant places somewhat outside everyday life have also a kind of charisma which can be
transferred to the travellers to these places. This is for instance the case with health spas.
There chronically ill patients stay for several weeks to improve their health. Heath spas are
mostly based on hot water spring. The minerals in the water are perceived to cure all different
kinds of chronic illnesses. These thermal springs are mostly found in hilly countryside outside
the main population centres. Already in the Antiquity patients travelled to faraway places like
Pamukkale to bathe in mineral springs. Especially in Germany these sites developed at the end
of the nineteenth century as a counterpoint to the chaotic expanding and polluted industrial
cities. They offered instead a healthy environment with healing mineral water and clean air,
where people could live quietly for a few weeks in nice white buildings surrounded by green
parks (Kaspar 1993). The charisma of the healing powers of the water is thus reinforced by the
charisma of a nice clean and quit place far away from the unhealthy industrial cities. This
charisma of health spas has more to do with the body and the environment, and is only
indirectly related to political regimes. Health spas can perhaps be regarded as charismatic
interventions in individual life paths.
         The distance in space towards the Promised Land to be entered in the future is also part
of its charismatic appeal. The Promised Land with its milk and honey contrasts with the harsh
reality in the everyday life of especially some deprived sections of the population. While
charismatic leaders can partly base their charismatic appeal on their entrance from the
outside, distant spaces can themselves develop a charismatic appeal. Especially for the
dispossessed distant new territories can have a charismatic appeal. For many poor Europeans
the colonies and North America were a nineteenth and twentieth century Promised Land. The
Frontier and California were Promised Lands in the United States in the nineteenth century.
Israel became one for the persecuted Jews.
         The charisma of a better future can be projected on futuristic places. But not like the
Promised Land far away and out of sight, the charisma of futuristic places is based on their
visibility in everyday life. The better future is already partially present in purposely built
charismatic places. The charisma of the future is frequently linked to specific places where the
better future of tomorrow is already visible and visitable today. This paradox of a place
visitable today, but pointing to the modern and better future, is very charismatic. These
futuristic places can be somewhat secluded like pilgrimage sites, like for instance Futuroscope
near Poitiers in France. But they can also be very visible in daily life. In the German
Democratic Republic the Palast der Republik, like some metro lines in Moscow, gave the
population a preview into the communist future.

5      From ideal typical legitimation of different regimes to the legitimation
       of nation-states through charismatic spaces

These futuristic places of the charisma of the future and the monuments and heritage sites of
past charisma are important spaces to legitimise established regimes. These charismatic places
have a similar legitimating function for very different types of non-charismatic regimes. While
traditional regimes focus on the past, bureaucratic regimes focus more on the future.
Traditional regimes legitimise their rule by linking it to their charismatic past. Traditional
regimes are based on morality (“wertrational”). Its legitimacy is based on its past
performance. Places linked to their charismatic past thus legitimise their rule. In contrast
bureaucratic regimes are based on efficiency (“zweckrational”) (Weber 1980, 124). The
conviction of the population that this regime will perform even better in the future is important
for its legitimacy. Futuristic places legitimise bureaucratic regimes by showing the population
how its rule will improve daily life in the future. This modernistic future already visible and
visitable today gives these futuristic places the charisma of the radical transformation into a
new and better world which legitimises the bureaucratic regime. Thus ideal typically
bureaucratic regimes are legitimised by forward looking charismatic places, while traditional
regimes are legitimised by backward looking charismatic places.
         However, this is more of a Weberian ideal typical category which when applied to real
sites only partially explain the importance of these sites for the legitimation of regimes.
Regimes also mix characteristics of the ideal types of traditional and bureaucratic regimes.
Especially nation-states use both traditional backward looking and rational forward looking
charismatic spaces to legitimise themselves. This is linked to the Janus face of modern
nationalism, which looks both backwards to a glorious past and looks forward to a magnificent
future (Nairn 1977). Nation-states legitimise themselves to their population using both
traditional and bureaucratic forms of legitimacy. By constructing a long continuous history of
their territorial rule they use a traditional form of legitimacy. Through the promise of an even
better future, which will be created through the efficiency of their modern bureaucracy, the
nation-state further legitimises itself to its population.
         Nation-states use different types of charismatic places to legitimise their rule. For
instance in France statues of Joan of Arc link the French state with this charismatic national
leader in a traditional way. But it uses also the more revolutionary charisma captured in the
monument on the place de la Bastille whose storming marked the beginning of the French
revolution which toppled the traditional regime of the French kings. The French state also
initialised the creation of the futuristic Futuroscope near Poitiers to show the new possibilities
of the new media to the French public. It also is a technopole which attracts innovative firms
by high-tech facilities and the presence of important educational institutions (www.technopole-
         The importance of national monuments changes quite frequently over time. The
charisma of places like Nelson’s column in London, the Arc de Triomf in Paris, and the Place du
centinaire in Brussels diminished over time. Sometimes the meaning of monuments changes.
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin started out as a monument of Prussian military success.
During the Cold War it became a symbol of how the division of the world in two blocks divided
the hearth of Berlin. The charismatic event of the peaceful demolition of the Wall by the
masses of GDR citizens transformed the symbolism of the Brandenburg Gate. Based on the
memories of the charismatic event of the fall of the Wall it now symbolises the new capital of
the new Germany which is a very popular venue for the parties celebrating the new German
national identity. It is the most important venue of for instance public viewing of championship
games of the national football team, and the New Year celebrations.

6      The changing charismatic meaning of a place: Zeche Zollverein in the
       Ruhr area

Many charismatic spaces do not fit that well in the ideal typical distinction between these
different types of spatial charisma. This does not necessarily mean that the classification is not
useful. Max Weber’s motivation to use ideal types is not to describe reality in its complexity,
but to understand the different mechanisms which form reality. Ideal types incorporate these
different aspects in their logically pure form. These ideal types are not hypothesis to explain
reality, but help us to understand the different processes behind reality (Weber 1980). In the
previous sections we discussed different forms and examples of spatial charisma. The previous
section focussed on how nation-states use different types of charismatic spaces to legitimise
its rule. This section tries to analyse how the combination of both traditional and bureaucratic
legitimacy can strengthen the charisma of a place. This section analyses how the combination
of a heritage site and a futuristic place gives the obsolete coal mine Zeche Zollverein its special
charisma for the Ruhr area as a whole. It for instance houses both a museum of the industrial
past and as a design centre for the future. The Zeche Zollverein combines the charisma of a
glorious past with the charisma of a glorious future.
        The present day use of the Zeche Zollverein as an icon of the developing Ruhr area is
rooted in its regional industrial history. Coal mining was important for the development of
industry in the Ruhr area. Its importance for the development in the nineteenth century of the
Ruhr area into the largest and most modern industrial region, gave coal mining a certain
charisma. They fuelled industrialisation which transformed traditional German society (Goch
2002). Besides this vague general charisma of coal mining, the winding tower of a coal mine
has a special charisma. The distinct large winding towers visible from afar became the symbol
of the mine and thus the focus of the charisma attached to mining. Its charisma was
strengthened by its function in the operation of the mine. It transported the miners and the
coal. It linked the darkness of the underworld of the mine with the light and blue skies of the
surface. Riding it signified for the miners also the transition from work to leisure and from
danger to safety. During accident the rescue work focussed on the winding tower where the
eagerly awaited survivors or casualties would surface. The symbolism or charisma of the
winding tower is somewhat comparable with that of a church tower. The monumentality of the
winding tower is further emphasised by the empty space of the court of honours (Ehrenhof) in
front of it. Around the landmark of the winding tower the miners lived frequently in secluded
neighbourhoods. The winding towers thus were also important symbols for the miners. It
symbolised efficient large scale production which legitimised this economic regime despite its
social inequalities and ecological destructions.
         The identity of the coal miners was however based on their social class and shared
interests. Their unions were strong and until the Nazi regime they mostly supported the
Communist Party. Their spatial identity was less developed in these communities of migrants.
From the start especially the mines in the Ruhr area attracted many migrants. Initially they
came from neighbouring rural areas. Later they attracted migrants from the poorer Eastern
regions of Germany and included many ethnic Poles. After the Second World War the mines
attracted foreign migrants from initially Southern Europe and later Turkey. This long history of
migration is now used to present the Ruhr area as a successful melting pot of different
cultures. This is also a main theme in their European capital of culture activities. Their spatial
identity was less developed and focussed on their local mining community under the winding
tower (Schwartz 2008). The regional identity in the Ruhr area developed only slowly. It was
based on the charisma of size. Contributing the fasted developing, most modern and largest
industrial region of the world (or at least Europe) provided the inhabitants with civic pride (Ditt
& Tenfelde 2007).
         The industrial decline and the virtual disappearance of the coal industry since the
nineteen sixties undermined the charisma of size and the regional identity in the Ruhr area.
The oldest, smaller collieries located mostly in the South were closed first. These sites were
levelled and used as new industrial sites to locate the new industries that with state subsidies
created new employment for the redundant miners. It affected later the Northern part of the
Ruhr area where the largest mining and industrial complexes were concentrated. This
transformed this Emscher zone into an area of industrial blight. Due to the fiscal crisis of the
German state in the nineteen eighties it was no longer able to subsidise the problems away,
especially while these were on a much larger scale than before. Instead the German state
embarked upon a new type of regional development policy which focussed more on the image
of the region. It used some selected projects to link the charisma of the industrial past with the
charisma of a new and better future based on culture and a creative economy. Inspired by the
successful initiative of a local reverend to transform the buildings of the Zeche Carl into a
youth centre, planners and architects from outside the Ruhr area began to develop plans to
stop demolishing and to start reusing industrial estates. Transforming old industrial estates
into monuments was also, in the short run at least, cheaper than demolishing them. The
international construction exhibition IBA between 1989 and 1999 aimed to transform the
destitute industrial zone in the Northern Ruhr area into an Emscher Park (Schwartz 2008, Franz
et al. 2007, van Houtum & Lagendijk 2001)
         The Zeche Zollverein fitted very well into this project. It was the largest mining complex
which was just closing. It is also architecturally quite remarkable. Build in the nineteen
twenties it linked up several old collieries into the largest and most modern mining complex in
the world. Its strictly functionalist architecture further strengthened its modernist charisma. It
is now transformed into a heritage site. It for instance now houses the Ruhr museum. But it is
also developed as a futuristic place building on its modernist architecture. Their old buildings
also accommodate many firms in the “creative economy” focussing on design, architecture and
engineering. Its area also houses the Zollverein School of Management and Design which is
“the only research and educational institute of its kind in Europe” (http://www.zollverein- It presents itself as “the world’s most beautiful coal mine” recognised by
the UNESCO in 2001 as a world heritage site and as the best event location in Germany
( The charisma of the superlative focuses many themes.
For instance it still boasts being the largest and most efficient coal mine in the past, with the
biggest welded winding tower. It also boast being elected as the best know industrial heritage
site in the Ruhr area (Joly 2003). Many more examples could be added to this list. Let’s only
mention the branding of the newly build escalator to visiting centre. It was initially branded as
the longest escalator in Europe. During a visit in 2007 my students questioned that statement
based on their travels on the London tube. Now the superlative branding of this escalator is
reframed into the longest free standing escalator in Germany. This charisma of the superlative
is not only used for the Zeche Zolverein. The marketing of the cultural capital of Europe
elaborately stresses the large number of museums, theatres and concert halls in the Ruhr area
as. In contrast to this culmination of elite cultures, it also organises for all its inhabitants the
longest coffee table of the world along a highway closed off for the weekend in this summer.
The region as a whole now presents itself as a metropolitan region due to its similar size to
London and Paris (
        The Zeche Zollverein is thus an interesting example of how the spatial charisma of sites
can combine and transform the charisma of the past into the charisma of a better future. This
is not a spontaneous process, but was an explicit strategy of actors exercising bureaucratic
spatial power tring to create new forms of regional identity to legitimise their policies. They not
only claim historical charisma through the creation of new heritage sites, but also try to create
new charisma by creating futuristic new sites for identification. Its charismatic industrialisation
was part of the formation of a modern German national identity. Its restructuring using iconic
old industrial sites a new culturally based spatial charisma links up with the new national
identity of the Berlin republic.

6      Conclusion

This exploration of the relation between charisma and space showed that space plays a role in
the emergence of the type of charisma analysed by Max Weber. Coming from the outside to
overthrow an established regime is important for the creation of charismatic leadership. On the
other hand, this paper also discussed how the charisma of some spaces is used by non-
charismatic regimes to legitimise their rule. These different types of charismatic spaces have in
common that they are outside the everyday life regulation by established regimes. These
charismatic spaces are outside the space or time of everyday life. Their relation with time
differs between regimes. Traditional regimes focus on heritage sites and monuments that refer
to their charismatic past. Traditional regimes legitimise their rule by looking backwards.
Bureaucratic regimes use more futuristic places to show the population a better future to be
realised by their rational and efficient rule. Bureaucratic regimes legitimise their rule by looking
forward. Nation-states combine both types of legitimation and use both types of charismatic
spaces for legitimation. The examples of the use of charismatic places by nation-states showed
that the distinction between different types of spatial charisma helps understanding their role
in legitimising them. Although these different theoretical ideal types hardly exit in reality, they
help us to better understand the different aspects of specific symbolic sites. The discussion of
the emergence of the Zeche Zollverein as the icon of the restructuring Ruhr area showed how
the complex charismatic meaning of a place can change over time. Spaces have no inherent
charisma. The charisma of spaces is constructed by state policies.


[1]    Organisational and industrial innovations can also perhaps be conceptualised as
charismatic new developments which change the production regime. It is widely recognised
that innovations tend to originate outside the main places of power. Peripheral mountainous
areas pioneered for instance the industrial revolution. Being outside the established urban
society in the core seems to have been important for the motivation and the possibility to
develop new ways of production. The true industrial revolution took place when these
charismatic new techniques were applied on a large scale in more urban regions (Pollard

[2]     In our present globalising world the charisma of some leaders like Mandela and Obama
affects people all over the world. As this hardly changes the political regimes outside their
national contexts, this new global form of charisma has little direct political consequences. The
example of Ghandi shows that this kind of global charisma is not new and that its influence is
much less directly political and is much more based on indirect influence through ideas and

7         REFERENCES

Appold, Stephen J. (2005), Location patterns of US industrial research: Mimetic isomorphism and the emergence of geographic
charisma. Regional Studies 39 (1), 17-39.

Dewsbury, J.D., Paul Cloke (2009), Spiritual landscapes: existence, performance and immanence. Social & Cultural Geography, 10
(6), 695-711.
Ditt, Karl, Klaus Tenfelde (Hg.) (2007), Das Ruhrgebiet in Rheinland und Westfalen: Koexistenz und Konkurrenz des
Raumbewusstseins im 19. Und 20. Jahrhundert. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh.
Duarte, C.M., Dennison, W.C., Orth, R.J., Carruthers, T.J.B. (2008), The charisma of coastal ecosystems: Addressing the imbalance.
Estuaries and Coasts 31 (3), pp. 605.
Elias, N. and Scotson, J.L., (1965), The Established and the Outsiders: a sociological enquiry into community problems, in series New
sociology library, London: Frank Cass.
Franz, Martin, Orhan Güles & Gisela Prey (2007), Place-Making and ‘Green’ Reuses of Brownfields in the Ruhr. TESG 99, pp. 316-
Goch, Stefan (2002), Betterment without Airs: Social, Cultural, and political Consequences of De-industrialization in the Ruhr.
International Review of Social History 47, pp. 87-111.
Gray, Dale M. (1999), Space as a frontier: the role of human motivation. Space Policy 15, 159-165.
Hansen, Thomas Blom, Oskar Verkaaik (2009), Urban charisma: on everyday mythologies in the city. Critique of Anthropology,
29(1), 5-26.
Holloway, Julian (2003), Make-believe: spiritual practice, embodiment, and sacred space. Environment and Planning 35, 1961-1974.
Houtum , Henk van & Arnoud Lagendijk (2001), Contextualising Regional Identity and Imagination in the Construction of Polycentric
Urban Regions: The Cases of the Ruhr Area and the Basque Country. Urban Studies 38 pp. 747-767.
Joly, Nicola (2003), Creating a new image for an old industrial regions: an analysis of touristic iconography in the Ruhr area. Die Erde
134, pp. 23-41
Kaspar, Fred (1993), Brunnenkur und Sommerlust: Gesundbrunnen und Kleinbäder in Westfalen. Bielefeld: Westfalen Verlag.
Lissner, Babette (ed.) (1998), Das Kaiser-Wilhelm Denkmal 1896-1996. Bielefeld: Verlag für Regionalgeschichte.
Lorimer, J. (2006), Non-human charisma: Which species trigger our emotions and why? Ecos 27 (1), pp. 20-27
Lorimer, Jamie (2007), Nonhuman charisma. Environment and Planning D, 25, 911-932
Mullan, Michael L. (1995), Sport as institutionalized charisma. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Vol. 19, No. 3, 285-306.
Nairn, Tom (1975), The Modern Janus. New Left Review. i/94, November-December, 3-30.
Olson, R.J.M., Pasachoff, J.M. (2009), Comets, charisma, and celebrity: Reflections on their deep impact . ESO Astrophysics
Symposia 2009, pp. 41-58 .
Oosterbaan, Martijn (2009), Sonic supremacy: Sound, space and charisma in a Favela in Rio de Janeiro. Critique of Anthropology, 29
(1), 81-104.
Peck, Jamie (1995), Moving and shaking: business élites, state localism and urban privatism. Progress in Human Geography 19 (1),
Pollard, Sidney (1997), Marginal Europe: the contribution of marginal lands since the Middle Ages. Oxford: Clarendon.
Savitch, H.V. (2010), What makes a great city great? An American perspective. Cities 27 (1), pp. 42-49.
Schwarz, Angela (Hg.) (2008) Industriekultur, Image, Identität. Die Zeche Zollverein und der Wandel in den Köpfen. Essen: Klartext-
Sergio, F., Newton, I., Marchesi, L., Pedrini, P. (2006), Ecologically justified charisma: Preservation of top predators delivers
biodiversity conservation . Journal of Applied Ecology 43 (6), pp. 1049-1055.

Terlouw, Kees , Maarten Hogenstijn & Daniël van Middelkoop (2008), The established, the outsiders and scale
strategies: studying local power conflicts, The Sociological Review, 56:1, pp. 144-161.

Weber, Max (1980), Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundriss der verstehenden Soziologie. Tübingen: Mohr.


To top