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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P303)

What is shaping rural futures? From perceptions to outcomes

Location Tower A, Piso 0, Room 2
Date and Start Time 20 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenors

Luís Silva (Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA-FCSH/NOVA)) email
Elisabete Figueiredo (University of Aveiro) email
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Short Abstract

This panel addresses the relationships between the current urban perceptions of rurality and the daily lives of the inhabitants in rural areas. It aims to discuss in a comprehensive way and with an ethnographic basis the discourses and practices that inform contemporary rural contexts.

Long Abstract

Since the middle of the twentieth century, the decline of the social and economic fabrics of rural areas in European countries has been followed by their increasing symbolic value. Urbanites moved by a 'pastoralist ideational framework' (Halfacree, 2007; Marx, 1967; Murdock, 2003) started to perceive them as the main repositories of some major global modern values, such as nature, tradition, culture and heritage. In the process, the rural spaces and the lives of their inhabitants become shaped by these perceptions, since they inform European and national policies of rural development, as well as the demands of most rural tourists and visitors. Therefore, modern rural areas become increasingly portrayed as multifunctional spaces of production and consumption. This fact alters rural economies and societies, by promoting the tertiary sector and fostering cross-cultural contacts.

In this panel we want to discuss the relationships between the current urban perceptions of rurality and the daily lives of the inhabitants in rural areas. Proposals should deal with the following questions: What are those perceptions? To what extent do they contribute to the reconfiguration of rural areas? What impacts do they have on local development processes? And what happens to the lives of the inhabitants in rural areas? Papers with an ethnographic basis are especially welcome.

The main topics include rural development policies and outcomes - construction of natural parks and historic sites, tourism facilities, local products - new forms of relationship between urban and rural contexts, and initiatives of inhabitants in rural areas that fulfill the demands of urbanites.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Small holding and urban gardening: agriculture as participatory heritage in the United Kingdom

Author: Maria Kennedy (Indiana University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper investigates agrarian romanticism in Britain through both historical folklore scholarship and current popular narratives portrayed on the BBC television series “River Cottage,” closing with a proposal for ethnographic study of the phenomenon.

Long Abstract

This paper investigates agrarian romanticism in Britain through both historical folklore scholarship and current popular narratives. Romantic epistemologies of urban and rural dominate the early scholarship of folkloristics, as well as current cultural ideals concerning sustainable agriculture, heritage farming, and simple living.

The Romantic epistemologies of early folklore scholarship itself should signal a significant starting place for an investigation of the impact of urban ideals and identities on rural places. This paper proposes that the Romantic epistemologies of early folklore scholarship concerning peasant life and agriculture, while possibly expunged from current academic theory, are alive and important in current vernacular worldviews that guide activities such as sustainable agriculture, heritage farming, and "downsizing" from hectic urban lives. What is the importance of agrarian romanticism as modern people seek to realize their ideals of countryside, its character, and its produce?

Moving from the Romanticism of early folkloristic scholarship towards current vernacular applications of Romantic epistemology, we will examine the popular narratives of rural places in Britian as portrayed in the BBC television series "River Cottage," a food and gardening show which follows a city chef as he moves to a rural cottage, downsizes, and learns to raise his own food on a small plot of land. Finally, extrapolating from the cultural narrative portrayed by this television show, this paper will propose possible ethnographic research on the motivations, experiences, and impacts of urban downsizers as they live the "River Cottage" dream.

"Leaving the campo is like leaving heaven": the role of nostalgia in urban Chilean's relationships to rural nature

Author: Meredith Root-Bernstein  email
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Short Abstract

I discuss how urban Chileans form relationships with rural nature in the Chilean Mediterranean-habitat zone. Pervasive views of nature as ugly and degraded are counterbalanced in many people by nostalgic attachment to specific places, species and activities that they experienced as children.

Long Abstract

Representations of Mediterranean nature often divide between visions of degradation and the pastoral picturesque, rooted in personal and cultural memories of the rural past. I investigate how urban Chileans understand and form relationships with rural nature in the Mediterranean-habitat zone surrounding Santiago de Chile, with the goal of understanding how biodiversity conservation could be promoted. A typical aspiration of the emerging middle classes is to own a summer house in the country, or to live in a housing development at the semi-rural periphery of Santiago's extensive suburbs. Despite this desire to be in rural landscapes, most people express dislike of the typical Mediterranean habitat because it is "seco" ("dry"). While some people described rural nature as permanently degraded, others blamed perceived degradation on more recent political and economic developments. These negative views were counterbalanced in some people by nostalgic attachment to specific places, species and activities that people knew from periods of time they spent as children in the countryside. Some men showed extensive knowledge of and appreciation for natural history, while women were more likely to speak about typical farm activities and inanimate natural phenomena such as stars or storms, suggesting how different ways of interacting with the environment might affect relationships with nature. Most of the reminisced-about interactions were fleeting or had been lost over time. Though nature in the Mediterranean zone of Chile is considered to lack beauty, charismatic species, culture and history, appeals to personal nostalgia may help to engage urban Chileans with conservation of biodiversity.

Crosscultural perceptions between rural and urban in Galicia

Authors: Xerardo Pereiro (Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro)  email
Santiago Prado (University of Vigo)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper focus on the relationships between imaginaries rural / urban in Galicia and the social construction of a new naturalist and culturalist images and ideologies of rural territories of Galicia. We want to discuss the role of Galician Nationalism and other ideologies in the new rural identifications.

Long Abstract

In Spain, in the 1950s lived in towns of less than 2000 inhabitants some 11 million people, today less than 7. Today, in spite of Peri-urbanization and rurbanization processes, only 24% of the Spanish population (45.989.016 inhabitants) lives in localities considered "rural".

The so-called traditionally rural spaces are redefining globally and in particular on the Iberian Peninsula (Roseman, 2008; Silva, 2009). The so-called neorural and rurban people have assumed a leading role in reconstruction, look and meaning of "old" rural and have entered into a process of dialogue with other actors and institutions. The truth is that we are witnessing a series of social, economic, political and cultural transformations of the senses of "rural" where it is necessary to rethink the theoretical and methodological framework.

In the first part of our paper we are going to present the social sciences ways of thinking rural-urban relationship, and in the second we want to discuss: a) the role of Galician Nationalist Ideologies in the construction of new ruralities and rurban identities; b) the mechanisms, processes, actors and stakeholders involved in the formation of the new Galician ruralities and cultural landscapes.

Bibliography cited:

-Roseman, Sharon (2008: O rexurdimento dunha base rural no concello de Zas: O Santiaguiño de Carreira. A Coruña: Baía Edicións.

-Silva, Luís (2009): Casas no Campo. Etnografia do Turismo Rural em Portugal, Lisboa: Imprensa de Ciências Sociais.

Re-producing the rural in Transylvanian contexts: outsiders, factors and rural responses

Author: Árpád Töhötöm Szabó (Babes-Bolyai University)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper has three foci: while the main focus is on the actual economic conditions and economic policies as special images about the rural, I would also like to present the images created in media and tourism that interact with the former, and finally I outline some rural responses.

Long Abstract

As ethnographers and economic historians state many times, Transylvania has always been a region that underwent special ways of development with week net of towns, thus with an emphasis on the rural and agrarian production. Consequently Transylvania is often identified with rural conditions and its components not only in scientific discourses, but in public opinion as well. On this background I would like to analyze on one hand the images and perceptions of rural created mainly by outsiders, on the other hand the economic factors and economic (agrarian) policies issued also by outsiders that fix and reproduce the rural conditions. In my view these current images and policies as par excellence urban ideologies about rural have their starting point in wrong perceptions of the rural that mirror rather the desires and demands of the urbanites than the actual conditions of rural areas. In this context on the basis of my fieldwork carried out in rural settlements and partly on written sources, in the first part of my paper I shortly present the main features of these images and their structure, in the second, larger part I look over the economic conditions and economic policies (lack of agrarian market, disadvantageous property relations, traditionalism, controversial directives, spatial planning) that shape the ruralities. And in the final part of the paper I present some rural responses that on this rural-urban field of battle and bargain have to struggle with both the disadvantages and wrong images.

The rurality reinvention discourse: urban demands, expectations and representations in the construction of a consumable countryside

Author: Ana Fernandes (University of Barcelona)  email
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Short Abstract

This presentation aims to show the results of our investigation work on the urban reinvention discourse around rurality. We start to discuss its dimensions (political, cultural and commercial) and the arguments behind its consensual aura, which are related to the contemporary heritage and nature cultural sacralization. Then, we will be able to deconstruct the urbanity of the values, interests and causes that legitimate and support its power. We shall finish in the city body searching for places of rural thematization, to better understand the hegemonic expectations and dreams, that trough the influence power of the reinvention discourse mold "real" territories and, thus, precipitate the landscapes of the emergent consumable countryside.

Long Abstract

In several social life spheres the idea, that trough the use and promotion of the rural heritage (natural and cultural) localities can reverse the crisis situation, seem to be recurrent. In fact, there is a hegemonic discourse which encourages the transformation of rural areas in objects for urban consumption. This discourse has a political dimension, materialized by the rural development policies that discourage the dependence on agriculture and stimulate the commoditization of rural places; a cultural dimension, as it works as an established set of positive representations around rurality (the Countryside Ideal); and a commercial dimension, visible in what concerns the dynamics of rural products (and of countryside as a product) promotion. This consumable rurality project is supported by the patrimonialist values that sacralize the cultural and natural heritages and, consequently, confer to the rural territories the mission of preserving everything that is supposedly jeopardized in the cities and in occidental societies in general. The romanticized rurality preserves the past, identities and traditions, at the same time as it guarantees the future, nature and sustainability. So it appeases urban anxieties and constitutes a refuge-value, making sense as an alterity to the city and as a symbolic landscape, molded by its expectations and needs. It is the urban gaze that centralizes this rurality; it is to the urban consumption that the countryside is promoted; it is by its expectations that the local ambitions orient themselves and, therefore, the rural territories.

'What sells?' State decentralisation and rural development in Hungary

Author: Alexandra Szőke  email
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Short Abstract

The restructuration of rural development led to the involvement of new actors, who more closely influence the future development of rural areas in Hungary. This paper examines what images these actors draw on and how they influence development and the relation of local inhabitants to their villages.

Long Abstract

The LHH program is one of the large development grants in Hungary, aimed at the development of the 'most disadvantaged micro-regions'. This program exemplifies the restructuration of rural development after 1989. While villages received larger autonomy to influence their development, they also have to compete for new grants. The LHH program will be used in this paper to highlight the variety of new actors that appeared and can now more closely influence the development of and life in rural places. Often these actors (such as NGOs, development agents, charity organizations) work on multiple scales ranging from the international to the regional, while not living in the locality, often coming from urban background or even the capital. What are their images of rural areas, how they imagine their future/development and how they reconfigure the relation of local inhabitants to their living place? This paper will engage with these questions by drawing on ethnographic examples from two villages that participated in the LHH project. While both Tarnabod and Szatmarcseke are in remote regions, and both have high unemployment and poverty they have strikingly different strategies. Tarnabod, with its 90% Roma population, was chosen by a large charity organization as a model village to display rural development. Meanwhile in Szatmarcseke, rural tourism is seen as the main strategy for bringing further resources to the locality. This often result in competing images about the place and its future, as well as raising questions about who has the right to determine them.

Interpretations of locality in the national landscape of Koli, Eastern Finland

Author: Eeva Uusitalo (University of Helsinki)  email
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Short Abstract

Koli Hills in Eastern Finland has been an important tourist destination since the 19th century, but it is also a village of about 300 inhabitants. This paper examines how local people respond to the development of their village and their home region, and the multiple interpretations of locality and local way of life surrounding the development of tourism in Koli.

Long Abstract

Koli Hills in Eastern Finland has been an important tourist destination from 19th century. It was canonized by Finnish artists of the late 19th century, who were inspired by the landscape. Since then it has become one of the so called national sceneries in Finland, and the destination of steady flows of tourists.

Koli is not, however, just a tourist destination, but also a village of about 300 inhabitants. Tourism has been a visible part of the everyday life of the local people. It has also every now and then divided the villagers. In 1991 the Koli National Park was established in the area. The establishment was preceded by a controversy between two viewpoints: weather to construct more ski slopes and infrastructure, or to preserve the area and concentrate on nature tourism. The latter viewpoint won, but there arise regularly disputes over the development guidelines of the tourism in Koli. The guidelines are usually defined by outside experts and consultants, and the local people tend to remain bystanders.

This paper examines how local people respond to the development of their village and their home region, and the multiple interpretations of locality and local way of life surrounding the development of tourism in Koli.

The presentation is based on the authors' intermittent ethnographic fieldwork trips to Koli in 2008-2009.

Tangible and intangible changes in Mediterranean villages as a result of sustainable tourism-led rural regeneration initiatives

Author: Aliye Mentesh (Oxford Brookes University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper aims at investigating the tangible and intangible changes occurred in traditional rural settlements in the Mediterranean context as a result of sustainable tourism–led rural regeneration initiatives.

Long Abstract

The built vernacular heritage in rural areas is a significant product of a community. It is a fundamental representative of the social and cultural traditions and a bridge between local people and the continuity of their past. It is a direct source of pride of all peoples. Rural heritage is a unique attraction for both local and foreign tourists. It is an opportunity to remember the authentic life style within contemporary rural context. Therefore it is inevitable to try protecting both physical (architectural) and socio-cultural concepts in rural settlements in order to conserve cultural and architectural traditions for a more sustainable future.

The aim of this study is to investigate the changes of tangible and intangible values in the traditional rural settlements after sustainable tourism-led rural regeneration initiatives have been implemented. The methods of achieving this information are to analyze in-depth cases in the Mediterranean rural villages where a sustainable tourism initiative has been undertaken. Analysing the completed projects aims at helping understand the principles, and process as well as the final outcomes of such schemes on the local setting especially on the individuals.

Through the findings, the research intends to establish a broader understanding and awareness of the dynamic between the different disciplines that contribute to the whole process such as sociology, economy, and tourism besides historic conservation and the politics of rural regeneration.

Perceptions and appropriations of identities and discourses in the island of Ons (Galicia, Spain)

Authors: Juan Martin Dabezies (Centro Universitario Regional Este/Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educación/UdelaR)  email
Paula Ballesteros (Spanish National Research Council (CSIC))  email
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Short Abstract

In this paper we present a study conducted on the island of Ons (a National Park of Galicia, Spain), which focuses on the intersecting discourses about the use or ownership of the island's identity. We analyze these discourses in the context of the demands of urbanization and ruralization of the island

Long Abstract

In this paper we present a study conducted on the island of Ons (Galicia, Spain), in which we analyze various discourses that are intersected around the use or ownership of the island's identity. This island is part of the Network of National Parks of Spain, and is a major tourist destination in Galicia, visited for its natural and cultural values, which include traditional ways of life.

This appropriation and use of island identity is closely linked to the existence of different social agents on the island (those in charge of public management, permanent residents, seasonal residents, "sun and sand" tourists, and eco-tourists) with perceptions and interests, which have influence in shaping the daily lives of the permanent inhabitants of the island.

In the paper we analyze the background of these discourses within the framework of demands of urbanization and ruralization of the island, concepts connected in local and regional perspectives on (pre and post)modern values. The analysis makes a strong emphasis on historical factors as the basis of a situation that also responds to global issues.

Between rural and urban areas: socio-spatial representations of the residents of two counties in southern Portugal

Authors: Maria Mendes (Universidade de Lisboa e CIES-IUL)  email
Renato Carmo (CIES-ISCTE-IUL)  email
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Short Abstract

It is our objective to reflect about the ability of autonomy of these spaces and contribute to the understanding of relational spheres and coordination between these spaces and the dynamics of urbanization in two counties in southern Portugal: São Brás de Alportel and Alcoutim.

Long Abstract

In a contemporary context in which there are few discussions about the relationship between urban areas and spaces with features still predominantly "rural", which are usually represented as peripheral and subordinate marginal, it is our objective in this presentation to reflect about the ability of autonomy of these spaces and contribute to the understanding of relational spheres and coordination between these spaces and the dynamics of urbanization. In this context, it seeks here to discuss and question the social representations of local area residents in two counties in southern Portugal: São Brás de Alportel and Alcoutim.

Based on the results of a survey questionnaire conducted in 2009 to 678 residents of both counties, sought to know and deepen the social representations of respondents about the level of development of the county, particularly on the bottlenecks and potential these territories, taking into account major changes in the (re) composition of the local population.

Describing everyday life in rural Finland: the concept of "residential rural areas"

Author: Pilvi Hämeenaho (University of Jyväskylä)  email
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Short Abstract

In this paper I analyse the concept of "Residential Rural Areas" as a tool to describe living in today's rural areas in Finland. I compare this concept to the descriptions of daily life given by families living in the countryside. The fieldwork data I use is collected for my dissertation work.

Long Abstract

Finland is a country of vast rural areas, with over third of the population living permanently outside the cities (2005 census). Differences in lifestyle between rural and urban dwelling are diminishing on a level of daily life. However, in the current public and political discourse, the rural areas are often seen either as containers of agrarian heritage or as an exotic holiday-resort for urbanites. These perceptions may lead to ignoring the daily needs of inhabitants in rural areas - for example not providing the public services that citizens of Finnish welfare state are justified.

To describe the reality of living in today's rural areas the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture have proposed the concept of "Residential Rural Areas", indicating to the permanent housing and urban-like lifestyle. In my paper I analyse this term and its usability when studying the every day life of families living in rural areas. I compare the contents of the idea of "residential rural" to those descriptions of daily life I had during my fieldwork among families living in countryside. Paper is based on my dissertation work in ethnology in which I study the life and welfare of rural families. The main research data is collected from villages in three Finnish municipalities and consists of interviews and participant observation. My aim is to add one more perception to wider discourse of living in today's rural Finland - the one of the inhabitants.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.