People moving to the countryside: resurgent again in COVID-19 times… but are they staying?

Session organisers: Keith Halfacree (Swansea University) and Andrew Maclaren (University of Aberdeen)

Permanent residential migration, an established Geography mainstay, has long been
a topic of considerable interest for diverse scholars of rural studies. Whilst some
have examined migration away from the rural, most attention has been given to
people moving to a primary residence in the countryside, often expressed via terms
such as counterurbanisation, pro-rural migration, rural renaissance, and so on. And
these ongoing COVID-19 years have given a boost to such work, a common theme
across the news and beyond being that of people seeking to ‘escape to the
countryside’ from various ramifications of the pandemic.

As the Rural Geography Research Group celebrates its half century, this session
seeks to provide both a timely stocktaking of rural migration research and to take this
scholarship forward by engaging with what is happening with rural migration in the
context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Is a new rural repopulation wave underway or is
it likely to be a more fleeting experience, hyped by far from disinterested groups such
as estate agents and other ‘rural’ marketeers? Either way, what are the emerging
consequences for rural places and people?

We welcome papers engaging with theoretical, methodological and empirical
considerations of where ‘rural migration’ stands in 2022, including:
 Presenting past, present and emerging overviews of rural migration geographies;
 Addressing the methodological demands of researching rural migration in person
and online;
 Engaging with rural migration across the lifecourse;
 Examining novel approaches to rural migration research, e.g. post-humanist;
 Teasing out and scrutinising emergent aspects of migration and people’s choices
in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic;
 Exploring how lives are consolidated, disrupted or more benignly altered in rural
places as a result of experiences of migration.

Please send titles, abstracts (up to 250 words) and affiliations to and as soon as possible.