EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P146)
Moving from, moving to, moving in the countryside: ethnographic perspectives on rural mobilities [SIEF panel]
Location SO-D220
Date and Start Time 16 Aug, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Lauri Turpeinen (University of Helsinki) email
  • Elisabeth Wollin Elhouar (School of History and Contemporary Studies) email
  • Pilvi Hämeenaho (University of Jyväskylä) email
  • Michaela Fenske (Universität Würzburg) email
  • Sophie Elpers (Meertens Institute, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) email

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Short abstract

Rural spaces are and always have been shaped by and connected to many forms of mobility. These encompass in-migration and out-migration, but also internal movement. We invite researchers engaged in the cultural analysis of and ethnographies dealing with topics of mobility and rural spaces.

Long abstract

Michael M. Bell and Giorgo Osti have recently pointed out that contrary to a public perception of rural spaces as stagnant and unchanging, they always have been the sites of various forms of movement and mobility (2010: 199). These comprise not only mundane everyday mobilities like commuting, but also grander mobility projects of in- and out-migration that are all shaping the experience of rural life. Their variety and different scales and directions are also reflected by the diversity of concepts and categories that are applied in trying to understand them and their effects on rural communities.

In this panel, we are gathering researchers doing ethnographic work on the role of mobility in rural communities and regions around the world. Hereby, we are interested in rural depopulation as well as in-migration and their various reasons (for instance, lifestyle migration) and impacts on everyday life in rural areas. We welcome contributions dealing with experiences of both in-migration into and out-migration from rural spaces, the impact of gentrification and counter-urbanization on rural communities, feelings of abandonment and absence in rural regions with strong out-migration, affect in the context of rural mobilities, the experiences of refugees settled in rural spaces, multi-local living practices and second homes, political efforts towards mobilities and their effects on rural everyday life, images of the rural connected with mobilities, and other research projects operating at the intersection of rurality and mobility, like for instance also, on a smaller scale, work on everyday mobilities in rural spaces.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

'Nowhere to Go': Rural to Rural Agriculture Work Migration from Thailand to Israel

Author: Shahar Shoham (The Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin) email
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Short abstract

Despite the massive agriculture work migration of Thais to Israel, no substantive Thai community has developed. The migration narratives of one Thai village community demonstrate how although hundreds of its members have been migrating to Israel, it is imagined only in relation to the realm of work.

Long abstract

The people of Ban Phak Khad, a Thai rural agricultural-based village community in Isaan region, have been migrating in there hundreds to Israel to work as agriculture farm workers for the last three decades. Many of them have been migrating to multiple destinations, in some cases across few generations. Isaan is Thailand's central sending internal and international out migration region, placed in the bottom of Thailand's socio-economic hierarchies, constructed as the 'rural others' and 'backwards villagers', in opposition to the 'developed modern' urban elite. While working in rural communities in Israel, Thais are subjected to highly restrictive and State regulated policies specially designed for non-Jewish labourers, which render them vulnerable to exploitation and to physical and social isolation within the farms where they live and work. Demonstrated through ethnography of hindsight migration narratives of former migrants of Ban Phak Khad and their community members, I argue that despite the massive work migration, no substantive Thai community has developed in Israel, due to the limitations Thais face as a result of the social, political and economic policies and structures in Israel. As a result the transmitted knowledge, stories and memories, whether verbal, through photos, or objects which came back from Israel to the village, all contribute to the imagination of Israel in relation to the realm of work. Thus it is imagined as one out of few global markets where they can work rather than as an aspirational place for immigration, settling down, or a new place to explore and travel.

Leaving the tobacco properties and settling again. The case of tobacco workers from Salta (Argentina)

Author: Gala Aguero (CMH - EHESS - CONICET) email
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Short abstract

Re-settling oneself outside the properties where they lived and worked, implies for the workers a series of changes in their way of life. We are interested in exploring their choices and the implication that their past experiences of labor mobility have in these.

Long abstract

Mobility is a dynamic intrinsic to rural spaces, mainly of workers who move seasonally through the tobacco properties. In a current context of urbanization, a historical perspective is essential to understand the current social dynamics of the arrival of new inhabitants and the displacements of the former ones, since these are inscribed in processes of long duration.

In the case of El Encón (Argentina) tobacco properties have been disappearing since 1980 in the context of an economic reconversion and the advance of the urbanization of a capital city that expands on its borders. However, an economic or urban perspective is not enough to understand the complexity of this socio-spatial reconfiguration process. Here we propose a work in historical perspective, which shows the ways in which the space of the property has been constructed -as a physical and as a social space-, as a starting point to understand its current disappearance.

In this sense, the property is defined more precisely as a social configuration. There, the workers not only worked, but lived with their families as part of a agreement with the owner. The properties began to close in 1980 and this process culminated in 2014 with the conversion of the last property into a private neighborhood. In this context, it is interesting to inquire into the reasons why the former workers are re-settling staying in the locality and in what way their personal trajectory of mobility affects these choices.

Everyday flows - rural localities through movement and flows. The case of Polish villages located between the national road no. 92 and the motorway A2

Author: Agata Stanisz (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań) email
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Short abstract

The subject of my ethnographic narration will be small, rural, roadside communities living in constant (trans)local and transit flow. This flow is beyond direct control of these communities but at the same time shapes their economic strategies and affects their socio-spatial (im)mobility.

Long abstract

In my paper, I will present the results of the ethnographic research I was conducting between 2013 and 2016 in roadside villages located alongside national road no. 92 and motorway A2. These two big road infrastructures are the main transportation corridors between Polish East and West borders. Villages which I was visiting are situated on a 90-km stretch between Nowy Tomyśl and the border crossing in Świecko. The landscape of these mostly very small towns is characterized by service points dedicated to long distance transportation and tourist industry, whose operation revolves around auto-mobility, warehouses or shipping and logistical centers. Its visual aspects can hardly be all associated with rural landscapes. It is clear that these towns must be considered as places of intensive, constant - local, translocal and transit - movement and flow of different kinds of goods transported by trailer trucks, economic immigrants, tourists, and everyday public and private micro-mobility of inhabitants. In my paper, I would like to show how the execution of these various forms of flows, its directions and intensity do not only determine the socio-economic local life but is also in itself determined by global political fluctuations. I will also answer the questions of how this constant but various and nuanced flow shapes people's mobility potential and to what extent it is interrelated with material/infrastructural aspects of rural locality

Second generation youth in rural space: working (im)mobility

Authors: Johanna Mitterhofer (European Academy Bozen-Bolzano) email
Martha Jiménez-Rosano (Istitute for Minority Rights) email
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Short abstract

This paper explores how second generation youth in rural South Tyrol (Italy) negotiate their and their families' experiences of mobility in a context that seems to favour immobility, and the effects their (im)mobile presence has on local understandings of (rural) belonging.

Long abstract

In the valleys and villages of South Tyrol, a mountainous province in Northern Italy with a large German-speaking minority, traces of mobility, both ancient and contemporary, are omnipresent: old smuggler paths take tourists across mountains; local policemen are frequently from Southern Italy; school busses shuttle children from remote farms to their classrooms, which they share with schoolmates whose Slovakian or Pakistani parents work in local hotels. In public discourse, however, definitions of "rural" continue to be rooted in discourses about century-old belonging to the land, age-old traditions, and a strict binary of insider versus outsider.

Drawing on an ongoing study of second generation youth (2GY) in South Tyrol, this paper explores how 2GY negotiate their and their families' experiences of mobility in a context that seems to favour immobility. What strategies do they adopt to create their own spaces of identity and belonging, which sometimes overlap with "local" categories of belonging but often don't, and which blur the binary of mobility/immobility, insider/outsider, roots/routes (eg. Alba & Nee 1997; Ambrosini & Molina 2004; Crul et. al. 2012; Levitt & Glick Schiller 2004)? We analyse these strategies in a context where they are particularly salient - during 2GY's transition into a labor market where local roots and family ties often matter more than competence. We explore the complex negotiations that go into young people's attempts to find their place as a minority within a minority in rural Europe and the effects their presence has on local understandings of (rural) belonging.

Rural Mobilities at a Borderland: the Case of Baloches in Sarhadd (Iranian Balochistan)

Author: Vahé Boyajian (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, National Academy of Sciences, Armenia) email
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Short abstract

The paper focuses on certain aspects of mobility and stability among Baloches of Sarhadd in Iranian Balochistan. The interaction between the rural and urban lifestyles of Baloches ensures both their economic sustainability and the security of the border with Pakistan.

Long abstract

The paper focuses on certain aspects of mobility and stability among Baloches of Sarhadd in Iranian Balochistan. The interaction between the rural and urban lifestyles of Baloches ensures both their economic sustainability and the security of the border with Pakistan. The mobility of Baloches between the countryside and the local urban centres (Khash, Zahedan) can be characterised within the logic of recursiveness, as in Sarhadd they are engaged in a variety of social and economic activities that supposes a pluri-residential lifestyle. The rural areas act as the loci for sedentary agricultural occupation and animal husbandry, while the urban spaces provide opportunities for trade and other social engagements typical to non-rural sites. This kind of mobility is conditioned by a number of factors related to the social structure of the Balochi "tribes" in Sarhadd, the segmentary lineage system, as well as by the fact that Baloches are involved in paramilitary units for protecting the border with Pakistan. It is argued that moving from and to the rural areas alongside the border in a way is an important tool for the "securitisation" of the area. Besides, the rural mobility is an essential aspect of the social roles represented in Sarhadd, which under certain circumstances are transformed into markers of identity. The ethnographic data have been obtained during the fieldwork in 2016-2017, in Sarhadd, Iranian Balochistan.

The sensations of arriving and settling in a city: young Finnish rural out-migrants' experiences with moving from the countryside to Helsinki

Author: Lauri Turpeinen (University of Helsinki) email
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Short abstract

There have been repeated calls for an inclusion of affect as a perspective on rural-urban migration. This presentation follows these calls and explores the feelings and sensations young rural out-migrants in Finland experience, while moving to and settling in the city.

Long abstract

The youth researchers David Farrugia, John Smyth, and Tim Harrison have recently argued that neglecting affect in the study of rural young people's mobilities would make it impossible to fully understand this phenomenon (2015: 118). Following this impulse, I aim to explore the affects emerging in contemporary out-migration from Kainuu, a remote region in the Northeast of Finland. Sensations, feelings, and emotions have repeatedly been a subject, when my informants recounted their experiences with moving from Kainuu to Helsinki, and of settling in the city. Their narrations were rooted in dichotomous conceptualizations contrasting a rural idyll with the buzzing metropolis, but also went beyond them and towards affects in highlighting the sensations and feelings that have been emerging in their engagements with those spaces. Therefore, analyzing the relationship of affect and space in the context of rural-urban migration may show facets of the process of arriving and settling in urban spaces that have been overlooked so far. Here, the initial discomfort they experienced in Helsinki and their subsequent efforts of

adapting to the city are analyzed as a re-shaping of subjectivities, which ultimately leads to them slowly

getting in tune with the rhythms of their new urban living environment.

Political resistance through Neo-rural (im)mobilities? A case study from Catalonia

Authors: Paula Escribano (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona) email
Agata Hummel (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań) email
Marisol Rojas (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona) email
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Short abstract

The influence of the neo-rural political imaginary and (im)mobility practices on the rural area will be explored through an ethnographic case in Catalonia, and the effects of the rural social context and of public policies on the life project of the neo-rurals will be investigated.

Long abstract

The Neo-rural phenomenon refers to a variety of contemporary mobilities from the city to the countryside. Within this range, we point out to a specific type of neo-rurals: those with roots in the back-to-the-land phenomenon led by young urban people who seek an alternative way of life in rural areas (Nogue, 2012).

We would like to present an ethnographic case of the Eco-Community in Catalonia (Spain) founded in 2014. It is located in a rural area two kilometres away from a village of 5000 habitants. According to the community members, the purpose of moving from the city to the Eco-community was to "disseminate principles and practices for the construction of a new society". We would like to analyse the imaginary and aspirations of the members of the current community before and during the mobility, and their (im)mobility practices in order to meet their goals. We want to find out what the impact of the community on the surrounding rural area is, how the rural area affects the shape that community, and what the adaptation practices are applied by the members of the Eco-community in order to cope with public policies of the rural area.

Hopes and dreams: against the mobility imperative of rural youth

Author: Sari Tuuva-Hongisto (South-Eastern University of Applied Sciences) email
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Short abstract

Presentation explores young people in rural and remote places in Eastern Finland, who wishes to stay at their home places, against the prevailing mobility imperative.

Long abstract

The presentation explores young people in rural and remote places, who wishes to stay at their home places, against the prevailing mobility imperative. The framework of mobility imperative understands mobilities across three dimensions: the structural, the symbolic and the non-representational. (Farrugia 2015). Rural young people are structurally disadvantaged: the education and work opportunities are increasingly concentrated in urban centers.

This presentation is based on research project: "Forgotten minority? Young people in remote villages and municipal welfare services". The research was conducted in autumn 2015 and it explored rural young people's lives that are shaped by sparse opportunities. The study concentrated on rural youth's experiences living in a remote village, their education possibilities, experiences of welfare services, social relations, leisure opportunities and future dreams. Research sites were in eastern Finland, which is sparsely populated rural and remote area with long distances to centers (20-50 kilometres to schools, commercial and municipal services). Methodologically the study follows ethnographic approach. The research material consist on 32 ethnographic interviews with rural young, aged 14-17.

Living in rural and remote places offers special kinds of richness and scarcities. The position is structurally unequal: the absence of possibilities to education and work; the global mobility is reshaping rural youth and regions. Living close to the nature, do-it-yourself -life, sensory freedom, individualism and self-employment are on the other hand the benefits of rural life and dimensions of the hopes and dreams of staying.

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This panel is closed to new paper proposals.