Ways of speaking as if through soil: The strange material of rural forgettings

Rowan Jaines (University of Sheffield, UK)
Natasha Coleman (Swansea University, UK)

This session will focus on elements of the rural that have been disavowed, denied and dispossessed by contemporary human geography. We are particularly interested by the manner in which these rural forgettings link to wider repressions and suppressions in phenomenological and corporeal experiences of a globalising world.

We aim to consider non-metropolitan areas as places whose own in-betweenness renders corporeal those elements obscured by the speed, transformation and connectivity of the metropolis. Indeed, while a growing majority of the world’s population is centred in urban localities, it is within the imagined ‘passive’ nature of rural that resources for industrialisation and globalisation are harvested.

This session concerns itself with transgressing the phantasy of a ‘passive’ and ‘ahistorical’ rural. Events unfolding over the last decade have started to reveal the invisibility and absence of ‘the rural’ from cultural and critical analyses – in the 2016 Brexit vote and US election and the subsequent discussions regarding “left behind places”, for example. These places do not exist outside of history – they have their own political prehistories, environmental apparitions and economic judders. We are interested by how the rural manifests alternative embodiments of the strange materiality of landscape, place and belonging.

This panel welcomes abstracts about the role played by geographical imaginaries in determining which aspects of contemporary rural life do and do not become visible, nationally and globally. In these uncertain times, the specific forms of resistance that are manifest in the rural are to be ignored or undervalued at our peril.

Please do join us to consider the ways that the rural offers opportunities to subvert traditional understandings of time in place, as well as the dialogues and divisive boundaries that complicate issues of the rural-urban and the human-non-human.