Conference Agenda

RS17_02: Dynamics of territories: Rural visions, identities and social innovation
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Apostolos G. Papadopoulos, Harokopio University
Session Chair: María Jesús Rivera Escribano, University of the Basque Country
Location: BS.4.06A
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Fourth Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


Beyond Rural Idyll? The Role Of Alternative Food Systems In The Transformation Of Rural-Urban Relations

Wojciech Goszczynski

Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland

In the minds of many, rurality is inseparably connected with the construction of the past. The rural idyll, strongly embedded in the ideological context, constitutes one of the extremes of the axis determined by classic European dichotomies distinguishing nature from civilisation, the soul from the body, the woman from the man, and the countryside from the city. This typically European division of narration about the past into two opposite parts determines boundaries, defines strangeness, reconstructs the present. In these perceptions, the concept of the rural idyll plays a special role. The vision of agriculture, the countryside, the rurality and nature distinguishing the corruption of the city from the strength, and vitality of the province has been developed from ancient times. By acting, we transform the world around us. Doing that we use the city-made, provided sets of desires distinguishing what is desired from what is rejected. This indicates the double face of the rural idyll which, referring to the past, may at the same time be a powerful instrument for shaping space, relations and culture, simultaneously being one of the mechanisms of excluding those who fail to match the elite vision of the world. Food as a powerful social and cultural mediator plays a special role in this process. It leaves us with the open question about ways in witch new sets of rural-urban food arrangements such as alternative food networks shapes relations between rural as an imagined place of production and urban as a place of consumption. Main goal of the paper will be to answer those questions when using field research results about alternative food systems.

''They've Stolen The Fair's Identity To The Farmers!'' Festive Sociabilities, Conflicts Of Belonging And Power Struggles In a French Village (1980-2015)

Quentin Schnapper1,2,3

1Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm), France; 2PSL Research University; 3CESAER (INRA)

This communication is based on an ethnographic fieldwork conducted in a french suburban village (4 000 inhabitants) that has underwent major transformations over the last decades: population growth, increase in upper- and middle-class employees and in commuter migrations towards the neighboring town. These evolutions have set off political struggles for the local government taken over by a socialist teacher in 1995 against an outgoing lot of farmers.

This communication focuses on the power struggles that take place outside and across the local government. We'll study the conflict that has raged in the local fair between upper- and middle-class employees linked to the socialist mayor and a group of old farmers former councillors or supporters of the majority defeated in 1995.

We'll show that power struggles cannot be disconnected from symbolic struggles for the definition of the legitimate ways of belonging to thoses territories. In doing so we'll also discuss commonsense interpretations that see these local conflicts as binary oppositions between “old/rural” and “new/urban” inhabitants.

We'll first describe the farmers' trajectories, how they revived the fair in 1980 and the transformations of their association in the 1990s which relies more and more on working-class people and catholic employees.

We'll finally go back to the conflicts surrounding the fair to show that theses conflicts imply a disqualification, a politization and a hardening of the agricultural and popular forms of belonging to the village promoted by the farmers. Oppositions between “local people” and “foreigners” are above all a product of symbolic and power struggles that harden/obfuscate the belonging diversity to those territories and the local alliances between social groups (here between farmers and catholic volunteers).

‘Pastoral Visions’: A Visual and Spatial Analysis of Poundbury, Dorchester, UK

Laura Clancy

Lancaster University, United Kingdom

In the 1980s, Prince Charles began his assault on modernist urban architecture, claiming that the style had destroyed British heritage and blighted regional landscapes. Instead, in his book A Vision of Britain (1989), he argued for the reconstruction of neoclassical architecture, which rejected urbanisation in favour of a conservative version of the pastoral.

This presentation will explore Charles’s vision through a visual and spatial analysis of his model town Poundbury in Dorchester, UK, built using the architectural principles set out in A Vision of Britain. It will argue that although Charles’s criticisms are positioned as a commentary on architecture, his vision of Britain is concerned not only with the technicalities of architecture, but also with the management of the citizens populating it. Poundbury may be framed as an eco-town of the future (Finn, 2008), but implicit in Charles’s vision is a return to the class hierarchy of aristocratic landowner, farm managers and peasant workers. Charles’s intense disapproval of the ‘creeping cancer’ of modernist architecture (The Prince of Wales, 1989: 77) relies on a historical and reactionary understanding of “Britishness” (or, more accurately, “Englishness”), rooted in pastoral nostalgia of the “green and pleasant land”. My analysis of Poundbury reveals how it stages a conservative, traditional understanding of rurality and ‘Little England’, based on relations of feudalism, imperialism, pre-industrialisation, anti-urbanisation, and classed, raced, and gendered hierarchies.

The Performative Dynamics Of Spatial Spread In Social Innovation Across Disadvantaged Rural Regions.

Jamie-Scott Baxter

Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS), Germany

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the claim that social innovation is well placed to drive social change and address today’s most pressing global challenges. More recently, the literature shows how social innovation is at work in disadvantaged rural regions (e.g. Bock 2012, Christmann 2014, Richter 2016, Noack and Federwisch 2018). Social innovation can be described as a process through which social change emerges as social practices and relations are intentionally reconfigured and spatially spread (e.g. Ayob et al. 2017, Howaldt et al. 2014, Moulaert et al. 2013). However, there is a gap in knowledge attending to how and under which conditions social innovations spread spatially, especially across rural regions.

This contribution presents results from the ongoing Marie Skłodowska Curie, ITN research programme, RurAction, through which social innovations in disadvantaged rural regions across Europe are under investigation. I will present initial results from empirical research collected and analysed through a qualitative hybrid mapping method which draws on recent theoretical advances, in particular Karen Barad’s ‘Performative Posthumanism’. Barad’s work is cut together with insights from the 19th C. sociologist Gabriel Tarde providing an original framework to investigate the spatial spread of social innovation. Early analysis reveals how specific material-discursive practices travel between, interact with and co-constitute territories, overcoming typical rural-urban borders. It is within such practices, according to Barad, where boundaries and exclusions are performed leading to either the repetition of stubborn dualities or, the novel reconfiguration of space.