CFP: Rural Imaginations Conference

Calls for Submissions, Events

August 24-26, 2022

Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Deadline for abstracts: February 28, 2022

With globalization primarily considered an urban phenomenon, its impact on rural areas tends to be neglected. This 3-day conference comes out of the ERC-funded Rural Imaginations project (RURAL IMAGINATIONS), which looks at how the rural is imagined in contemporary film, television and literature in the UK, the US, the Netherlands, China and South Africa. The main question the project asks is to what extent the demonstrable impact of globalization on the rural appears in these imaginations. 

The conference is planned to explore the crucial role various social, political, economic and cultural imaginations play in determining what aspects of contemporary rural life do and do not become visible nationally and globally, and how this affects the ways in which the rural is politically mobilized, affectively encountered and artistically mediated. While the countries and media central to the Rural Imaginations project will be an important focus, organizers also seek to extend the scope to other parts of the world. 

Rural communities from all over the world have claimed that their concerns – notably about globalization’s detrimental effects – are being ignored and have made themselves heard in protests, elections and referendums. In the process, they have often reaffirmed idealized imaginations of the rural and supported nationalist-populist agendas. At the same time, the rural’s undeniable role in engendering climate emergencies and epidemics (in humans and non-humans) is putting pressure on outdated notions of the rural as an idyllic, isolated space by demanding concerted action across urban-rural-wilderness borders and national ones. Asking why, in many places, people remain resistant to alternative imaginations of the countryside, especially when it comes to imaginations that acknowledge the rural’s implicatedness in colonial and other violent histories, is an important part of unearthing why so much about the reality of the rural is being denied, and why certain rural actors, not least non-human ones, remain unseen and unheard. 

The workshop will bring together academic voices from different disciplines, ranging from but not limited to cultural analysis, literary studies, anthropology, geography, philosophy and history. The organizers also seek to include artists and cultural producers working in the fields of literature, television, film and (visual) art.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • normative and counter-normative social/cultural/economic/political imaginations of the rural
  • globalization processes in the rural 
  • transnational/comparative ruralities 
  • affective investments in the rural 
  • old and new rural genres 
  • old and new politics of the rural 
  • the more-than-human/posthuman rural 
  • class, race, gender and sexuality in the rural 
  • the rural as a post/decolonial space 
  • the rural as a hinterland or commodity frontier 
  • the rural as a carceral space 
  • rural belonging 
  • rural gentrification 
  • rurality and authenticity 
  • rurality and sustainability/ecology 
  • ruralization outside the rural 

Confirmed speakers: 

Corinne Fowler, Professor of Postcolonial Literature at the University of Leicester. Corinne is the author of Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England’s Colonial Connections (2020). 

Jennifer Wenzel, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University. Jennifer is the author of The Disposition of Nature: Environmental Crisis and World Literature (2019). 

Michael Woods, Professor of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University. Michael is the author of Rural (2011) and was for many years editor of the Journal for Rural Studies. Contact Info: 

If you are interested in participating in the conference, with a paper or a panel including multiple speakers, please send an abstract (max. 150 words) and short bio (max. 100 words) to [email protected]

Contact Email: [email protected]


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