Accepted Paper:

Neorural movements and natural protected areas in the post-crisis, neoliberal age: new subjects, new values and new conflicts  


Jose Antonio Cortes Vazquez (University of A Coruña)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I argue that the economic crisis is adding further complexity to the study of the neorural phenomenon and its impact in natural protected areas in Europe as new forms of neoliberal environmentality, public policies and migrations transform the social life of these protected locations.

Paper long abstract:

The economic crisis experienced in Europe in the last few years is deeply transforming neorural movements and their influence in rural settings. This is particularly evident in conservation-targeted areas like natural protected areas. Utopian and amenity migrations have historically played a key role in the introduction of conservation policies in these locations as well as in the production of geographical idylls wherein to enact a new, 'natural' life. Such neorural actions have usually encountered opposition from other local groups with dissimilar interests and lifestyles. These disagreements often make protected areas to be contested spaces in which different habitus, environmentalities and hierarchies of value collide.

In this paper I suggest that the economic crisis incorporates new elements to the conflictive social life of these locations. New forms of neoliberal environmentality, brought about by new public policies as well as new migrations to protected areas that are direct outcomes of the economic crisis, are adding further complexity to the analysis of the neorural phenomenon. I will explore this in relation to particular cases in Andalusia, southern Spain. Among the issues to be taken into account are the disputes and alliances between: neorurals who moved to protected areas in a pre-crisis context in search of a natural idyll; neorurals who have moved to these locations in a post-crisis context looking for a job in the growing green economy; and those local communities who make a living in these areas through farming, fishing and other extractive activities.

Panel Rur001
Ethnography of rural spaces: between utopia and neoliberalism