P31


Empirical research of modern rurality: towards multilocality and interdisciplinarity 
Convenors:
Hana Horakova (Palacky University Olomouc)
Dana Fialová (Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science)
Location:
Ülikooli 18, 139
Start time:
1 July, 2013 at 10:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
3

Short Abstract:

The panel investigates some of the methodological and epistemological challenges concerning the research of modern rurality, specific for intercultural encounters and changes in mobility patterns. Papers dealing with issues of interdisciplinary and/or comparative research are invited.

Long Abstract

The panel aims at investigating some of the methodological and epistemological challenges concerning the empirical research of modern rurality, in Europe and elsewhere. As a complex organizational concept that permeates the economic and social structure of the countryside in the post-industrialized world (Cecchi 2001), modern rurality is a source of narratives produced by different players, both local and global. Modern rural areas are therefore heterogeneous, multifunctional spaces characterized by ever increasing intercultural encounters, cultural transmission, as well as changes in travel and mobility patterns.

The concept of rurality as multifaceted, complex and dynamic requires epistemological and methodological revisiting. We invite papers that deal with issues of interdisciplinary (as disciplinary boundaries tend to blur) and/or comparative research (multi-sited ethnography of both the cross-country and cross-regional nature). We seek to indicate challenges and outline possibilities that are there for us: how we do rural research in the twenty-first century (reinventing fieldwork), with whom we do it, and when and where we do it. Our panel should provide a fresh look at the old ways, and present novel ways of doing things.

Research problems may revolve around various topics: the relationship between rural society and space; between community, culture and identity; rural development from the perspective of social capital and networks; contemporary forms of temporary mobility; knowledge production in the field, etc.

Accepted papers:

Author:

Alina Ioana Branda (Babes-Bolyai University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is the result of an intensive fieldwork conducted in Săvădisla, a village placed near Cluj, in Transylvania, the western part of Romania.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is the result of an intensive fieldwork conducted in Săvădisla, a village placed near Cluj, in Transylvania, the western part of Romania. In the last few years, the community of Săvădisla and the neighbor ones had been exposed to different changes, triggered by the highway construction in their immediate vicinity.

Despite the fact that the entire project has produced and still produces debates, arguments, political splits, all these being much reflected in media, with different connotations, seen with subjective eyes, distorted in and by different political discourses, its consequences on the exposed communities are not so much discussed and even less approached scientifically.

Analyzing current narratives on highway construction, I am going to approach issues such as: new meanings of properties, inhabitants relations with material goods, cultural patrimony, the dynamics marginal groups-prosperous ones in new conditions, material responses to new challenges, ethnicity as a good.

In particular terms, my presentation offers answers to certain interrogations: are there big changes in the life conditions, in constructing and representing social networks, organizing households, rural economies? Are there any modifications in the meanings of private properties, in the owner's views or, generally, in the social imaginary: houses, households, old costumes, rituals, other patrimonial goods?

Author:

Andrea Boscoboinik (University of Fribourg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will focus on methodological challenges concerning the research on the transformations for the development of tourism in a region of the Swiss Alps. The political, economic, and ecological interests are so significant, that they challenge the way of doing fieldwork.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will focus on methodological challenges concerning the research on the transformations in a mountain region in canton Valais, Switzerland. This canton, mostly of mountain character, has followed deep transformations during particularly the second half of 20th century for the development of tourism.

The Alpine valleys have seen heavy building activities, the traditional farming systems have been drastically reduced, whereas tourist facilities increased heavily in number. An initiative launched by the ecologist Franz Weber was voted in March 2012 to introduce a law that will forbid new constructions since January 1, 2013 in those municipalities with more than 20% of second homes. The initiative's results have shown a strong cleavage between the Swiss Plateau and cities against mountain and ski resorts. Consequently, a research concerning the transformation of this region for tourist purposes became very sensitive. The political, economic, and ecological interests are so significant, that they challenge the way of doing fieldwork and interviews in this region.

I will present some results of an exploratory research conducted in Valais in September 2012, as well as the issues that have to be taken into account when organising a long term project research.

Author:

Sanja Loncar (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb)

Paper short abstract:

The work deals with contemporary phenomena connected with the rural space of Central Croatia and discusses the connection between local traditions and global trends, using as an example people who have decided to live in the countryside, living in accordance with the principles of sustainability.

Paper long abstract:

Based on a comparative ethnographic research conducted on several locations in central Croatia, the author discusses whether the 'return to the countryside' also involves a 'return to tradition'. She points to the differences and similarities between these examples, their connection to local or, on the other hand, global trends (environmental awareness, permaculture, off-grid life...). She focuses on activity and phenomena related to building houses using natural materials and living a new everyday village life. She analyses the mixing of local/traditional and environmental (in a broader sense) knowledge and skills. She also touches upon the methodological problems arising from the investigation, such as setting the limit of the investigation, selection of comparative examples, the use and applicability of the notions, etc.

Author:

Hana Horakova (Palacky University Olomouc)

Paper short abstract:

The paper investigates epistemological and methodological challenges concerning multi-local research of the Czech rural areas that have recently embarked upon the project of international tourism which uses public space and rural landscape as one of its principal attractions.

Paper long abstract:

In the past few decades, buzzwords such as flow, exchange, diversity, travel and mobility and/or cultural transmission have entered a new realm - rural space that used to be relatively immune from postmodern condition. The emergence of modern rurality has opened up interdisciplinary discussions on how to conceptualize and how to study this unbounded, multifaceted and dynamic realm. Among anthropologists, key epistemological and methodological challenges concerning the complexity of intercultural encounters in rural contexts were raised: how to do anthropology in the twenty-first century in a post-paradigmatic period; how to reinvent fieldwork that is no longer a fixed entity; how to replace field work "by immersion" with the conception of the field as an "on-and off thing" (Hannerz 2010); and, what are the implications of doing multi-sited ethnography.

I will elaborate on some of the epistemological and methodological issues by the example of interdisciplinary research (anthropology of tourism and social geography) in four Czech rural areas that have recently embarked upon the project of international tourism, which uses public space and rural landscape as one of its principal attractions. The issues will include the social construction of localitity and globality within small-scale communities; theoretical implications defining village, culture and identity as imagined, unstable and fluid concepts; defining the "hosts" and "guests"; carrying out multi-local research that presents new challenges to the ways of pursuing fieldwork.

Authors:

Dana Fialová (Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science)
Jiri Vagner (Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science)

Paper short abstract:

Second homes in Czechia share significantly on houses forming rural settlements and contribute to shaping rural landscape. The second home owners are users of the rural space and should not be neglected in rural changes research.

Paper long abstract:

The contribution pays attention at second home owners and users as significant elements in rural changes research in Czechia. Secondary data indicate a great amount of second homes with heterogeneous location pattern in the landscape. Primary data based on field surveys, in-depth interviews and observations show impacts of second home tourism at the environment. Second home tourism is considered an element of lifestyle of urban population above all, but influencing rural lives. Thus, research on relationships of both urban and rural communities, sharing the changing space, seems crucial for future rural development. Models of conflicts, coexistence and cooperation are investigated in model peripheral areas in Czechia. The contribution also gives detailed empirical results.

Author:

Montserrat Soronellas Masdeu (Rovira i Virgili University)

Paper short abstract:

This article analyzes the impact of the arrival of immigrant population in the Spanish rural areas from a gender perspective.

Paper long abstract:

This article analyzes the impact of the arrival of immigrant population in the Spanish rural areas from a gender perspective. We have particularly observed the female migratory routes to municipalities with problems in ensuring the reproduction of their communities (depopulation, masculinization, aging, singleness, economic marginality) suggesting that these women contribute uniquely to its development and the revival of part of human capital and labor lost in the decline process that has characterizes the rural areas throughout the twentieth century. We noted the demographic trends of immigration to rural areas and their characterization, migratory routes, expectations and uniqueness of their incorporation into such a specific medium socially, economically and culturally. Unlike male migration in these areas which is usually concerned in the primary sector, women work primarily in the service sector (hotels and tourism), in the agro processors and especially in work related to the reproductive sphere: care and attention to the aging population who because of rural exodus, do not usually have either a family or institutional context that meets their needs of close attention. We understand that the foreign women help to re feminize these communities and become essential economic and social agents.

Author:

Nina Kim Leonhardt (University of Tuebingen)

Paper short abstract:

This PhD thesis forms part of an interdisciplinary research project (www.sprachalltag.de). It seeks to describe and compare regional speech concepts and perceptions of dialect areas via linguistic and ethnographical analysis of empirical data gathered in small Swabian and Franconian towns.

Paper long abstract:

Through interviews, surveys and mental dialect maps, different preserving factors are exposed which have an impact on institutionalisation processes in orality and which can be compared to the processes of institutionalisation of standard German (scripturality, mediality, codification).

It is also shown that regional linguisticality is not just an experience of given dialect areas but, in the same way, includes constructions of regionality (environmental, historical, cultural) and constructions of social belonging (age, origin). In this way, it describes dialectality as an autopoietic and circulating phenomenon which also includes concepts of modern rurality.

Through three ethnographic case studies in the fieldwork area, it is shown that with regard to individual perceptions of dialect areas, there are not only differences between regions and generations. There are also very interesting intragenerational varieties: it has been discovered that factors like regional integration through friends and a job in the vicinity, as well as aspirations to establish a future in the hometown, influence dialect-supporting attitudes and dialect performances more significantly than classical sociodemografic factors like age and origin.

This result supports one of the starting hypotheses: the assumption that territorial self-positioning always relates to social self-positioning. A comparison of the data also indicates that awareness of spoken dialect differs regionally: People who live near the Swabian-Franconian dialect border between Ellwangen and Crailsheim have a much higher awareness of their own dialects compared to people who live in the Swabian-Franconian transition area near Heilbronn and to people who live in the homogeneously Swabian area near Stuttgart.