Urban-rural relations have diverse meanings for people of different age and gender. The panel explores creation and dissolution of social belonging between the urban and the rural at different phases during the life course.
Ethnographic research in many African societies has shown that urban and rural lives are deeply interwoven. Nevertheless, in much of the academic discourse the continent's population is described as being either "urban" or "rural". In regarding people's biographies, it soon becomes clear that their lives are often rural and urban, with a focus on one or the other. In some areas, children from villages are sent for several years to relatives in towns before coming back to get married. Rural youth migrate to urban areas for periods of time; some of the young migrants return home while others remain. Some elderly spending long parts of their life in towns or cities re-settle in their village of origin in their old age. In this panel we are interested in why and how people combine rural and urban life during their lifetimes: children and youth, men and woman or elderly persons. At what points and in what life periods urban respectively rural relationships become important? How do people shape relationships between the urban and the rural and which meanings do they attach to them? When and why are they less important? In which periods of life, why and by whom are the respective relations seen as a resource or as a burden? Contributing to debates on rural-urban relationships in the face of contemporary changes we encourage theoretically founded and empirically based papers from different disciplines.