With globalization primarily considered an urban phenomenon, its impact on rural areas tends to be neglected. This 3-day conference comes out of the ERC-funded Rural Imaginations project (RURAL IMAGINATIONS), which looks at how the rural is imagined in contemporary film, television and literature in the UK, the US, the Netherlands, China and South Africa. The main question the project asks is to what extent the demonstrable impact of globalization on the rural appears in these imaginations.
At the conference we want to explore the crucial role various social, political, economic and cultural imaginations play in determining what aspects of contemporary rural life do and do not become visible nationally and globally, and how this affects the ways in which the rural is politically mobilized, affectively encountered and artistically mediated. While the countries and media central to the Rural Imaginations project will be an important focus, we also seek to extend our scope to other parts of the world.
Rural communities from all over the world have claimed that their concerns – notably about globalization’s detrimental effects – are being ignored and have made themselves heard in protests, elections and referendums. In the process, they have often reaffirmed idealized imaginations of the rural and supported nationalist-populist agendas. At the same time, the rural’s undeniable role in engendering climate emergencies and epidemics (in humans and non-humans) is putting pressure on outdated notions of the rural as an idyllic, isolated space by demanding concerted action across urban-rural-wilderness borders and national ones. Asking why, in many places, people remain resistant to alternative imaginations of the countryside, especially when it comes to imaginations that acknowledge the rural’s implicatedness in colonial and other violent histories, is an important part of unearthing why so much about the reality of the rural is being denied, and why certain rural actors, not least non-human ones, remain unseen and unheard.
During the workshop we will bring together academic voices from different disciplines, ranging from but not limited to cultural analysis, literary studies, anthropology, geography, philosophy and history. We also seek to include artists and cultural producers working in the fields of literature, television, film and (visual) art.
Confirmed Keynotes: Michael Woods, Peter Hitchcock, Sun Wanning (online), Corinne Fowler (online), Jennifer Wenzel, Maxwell Ayamba, Rosemary Shirley