European rural communities: Utopia(s) or heritage(s)?

Martin Heřmanský (Charles University)
Hedvika Novotna (Charles University)
Dana Bittnerova (Charles University)
Start time:
24 June, 2015 at 10:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Considering the concept of rurality reproduced since the nineteenth century by scholars as well as politicians and media, the panel address the issue of the role of rurality as utopia and/or heritage in defining, negotiating and reproducing the contemporary European village in various discourses.

Long abstract:

Since the nineteenth century, scholars have shaped the representations of European villages as rural communities, that is ideal/idealized societies, where the pure national character was preserved and where the core values and morals of society were reproduced. By this, rurality and "traditional rural culture" as an interconnected system of subsistence, values, norms, symbols and prestige, in which form and character of subsistence (i.e. agriculture) influence all other cultural components, was created. This construct was also promulgated by many national revivalists active both in academic and public life and was used in politics as well. Even though it seems untenable today to think of some space as culturally homogeneous, the concept of rural communities still acts in relation to contemporary European villages. By redefining, rethinking and/or negotiating its content, scholars as well as politicians and mass media in fact reproduce this concept. We will thus ask: Is a "village" really such a specific space? If so, it is possible to define and describe its constituent features? Who negotiates these features and how they are negotiated? How are these negotiations influenced by construct of rurality as utopia on the one hand and as heritage on the other? And does rurality as a construct and/or a practice operate in a contemporary village?