Brexit; (Re-)Bordering Britain and Northern Ireland’s Rural Regions

Exiting the EU will initiate processes of bordering, re-bordering and de-bordering across a range of policy areas (Cassidy et al., 2018; McCall, 2018). Bordering will have a fundamental impact on the political possibilities of those working in rural areas across the UK by affecting how they are defined, who they can work with, how they carry out their work, and with what they work with. It will initiate re-alignments which those operating along these new borders might transgress thereby initiating conflict (Hayward & Komarova, 2019). Rural areas face unique challenges after Brexit due to their demography, geographic marginalism, limited infrastructure, and the need to re-configure policies that used to be determined by the EU. However, they also have distinct opportunities, for example, they are often rich in the natural resources that will be critical to decarbonisation and support for biodiversity, which will increase in importance during the 21st Century (Britain’s Leading Edge, 2019).

Rurality can be othering (Little, 1999) and simplistic – for example, rural people are often depicted as Leave voting, this ignores the experience in devolved nations. Rural people and land are at the centre of important political debates that cross ideological, socio-economic and geographic categories, as seen in regard to matters of the environment, trade and land use. Brexit plays a critical yet undetermined role in these debates as issues such as border checks and agricultural support have yet to be decided.

This session will explore the theme of rural re-bordering after Brexit, covering areas such as governance, devolution, pollution, trade, land use, agri-environmentalism and more. As we along with the session participants attempt to map the way rural areas are being re-bordered by Brexit. The aim would be to undertake an attempt at participatory systems mapping as carried out and reported on by CECAN and Defra in 2018, and create from this a digitised systems map of Brexit’s bordering and re-bordering effect on rural areas (York, 2018).

Paper submissions are requested in accordance with RGS criteria (Title, 250 word abstract, affiliations, email) by the 7th February 2020 . Please send to Jen Clements or Sean Heron