LGBTQ Liveability in Rural Spaces

Call for Papers for a  session at the Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) Conference, London Tuesday 31 August to Friday 3 September 2021.

Stefanie C. Boulila (Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts)

Sponsorship: Rural Geography Working Group

In popular discourse, sexual freedom is associated with the city (Hubbard 2012, Bilić and Stubbs 2015). Rural spaces are imagined as inherently heteronormative and hostile towards queer subjects (Butterfield 2018). Geographies of sexualities and queer geographies have been at the forefront of deconstructing rural spaces as sexually monolithic (Bell and Valentine 1997, Bell 2003, Gorman-Murray et al. 2012, McGlynn 2017). This body of work has complicated assumptions about queer migration patterns from rural to urban (Gorman-Murray 2007, 2009), explored anti-urban or lesbian feminist countercultures (Herring 2010, Valentine 1997) as well as the meanings of homonormativity in rural spaces (Brown 2015). These interventions have demonstrated that the sole understanding of the rural/urban axis through the progressive/conservative dichotomy has only provided a limited and arguably normative understanding of rural queer lives.

Recent policy research on queer lives in EU member states indicates that the marginalisation of LGBTQ people in rural societies and regions has to be understood through situated and geographically nuanced factors and analyses (Bilić and Stubbs 2015, Monro, Christmann et al. 2016, Butterfield 2018). Adding to the previous advances made by the queer geographical canon, this session queries how liveability can help us conceptualise rural queer lives. Judith Butler’s (2004) notion of liveability has lately been developed as an analytical tool for the queer social sciences to move beyond the common juridico-political understandings of equality and rights to one of lived experiences (Browne et al. 2019). With that, liveability disrupts place-based imaginaries about progress or its lack (Browne et al. 2015).

The session seeks to explore the diverse aspects of rural queer lives beyond the rural-urban dichotomy. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Queer networks
  • Conviviality
  • Social and political participation and political activism
  • (In)visbility
  • Gentrification and urban-rural migration
  • Space and place-making
  • Intersectional queer rural lives
  • Queer economies and counter-cultures

Convener Stefanie Boulila