Accepted Paper:

Changing ruralities: between abandonment and redefinition in the Catalan Pyrenees  


Camila del Mármol (Universitat de Barcelona)
Ismael Vaccaro (McGill University)

Paper short abstract:

We discuss the process by which upper mountain areas in Northern Spain are redefining themselves within the new postindustrial order. Our case study allows us to examine how macroeconomic changes affecting rural communities redefine the ways in which these areas engage with larger economic frameworks.

Paper long abstract:

In this article we discuss the process by which the upper areas of the Alt Urgell, in Northern Spain, are redefining themselves in order to survive in the new postindustrial order. During the last century the small mountainous villages of the Alt Urgell district have experienced several drastic socioeconomic changes as a result of their adaptation to the extreme transformations of Spanish society in particular and Western Europe in general. These communities, during the twentieth century, witnessed a steady demographic and economic collapse that resulted in a progressive decline of agricultural activities and the abandonment of mid-mountain villages. In the sixties, the area deepened its milk production specialization that offered, for a while, a path towards economic sustainability via connections to national networks of consumption. This solution was severed by the entry of Spain into the European Union. The new European regulations obliterated the industrial production of milk and disconnected the area, once again, from national markets. The early nineties saw these valleys fully engage in a postindustrial economy based on leisure and heritage. This case study allows us to examine how macroeconomic changes that affect rural communities in the Western world redefine the ways in which rural areas engage with larger economic frameworks that, at the end of the day, redefine their identities even as they ensure their viability.

Panel Rur001
Ethnography of rural spaces: between utopia and neoliberalism