The panel focuses on the role of culture in rural development in diverse contemporary cultural phenomena and processes in European rural areas that are the product of linking local traditional knowledge and ideas of sustainable development.
Sustainable development has been associated primarily with the environment, economy and social inclusion, whereas the importance of culture in this context has only recently been recognized and promoted (cf. Agenda 21 for culture). When pursuing sustainable development in rural areas, the economic base (agriculture) has been increasingly reconnected with its cultural context. Traditional ways of living have become perceived as an effective source of information, knowledge and skills for achieving a healthy and sustainable way of life, for developing tourism and conceiving development projects. The panel invites experts to present either theoretically oriented work on the role of culture in rural sustainable development or ethnographic case studies on contemporary cultural phenomena and processes from European rural areas that explore links between local traditional knowledge and sustainable development. Preferred topics encompass traditional production styles (ecological farming, permaculture, handicrafts, family farms/rural businesses), food (seasonal, local, home-grown, certified quality of origin), dwelling (passive/eco houses, renewable sources of energy, reconstructions of traditional architecture), and the development of rural tourism (based on natural and cultural heritage). Key questions include: What lessons from the traditional way of life correspond to the modern quest for a healthy and sustainable living? How is traditional knowledge perceived, represented, transformed, used? How are such processes and projects affecting local and regional communities? How they change the daily lives of residents, shape identity? How do they affect the relationships of different groups of the population?