Core Themes and Provisional Questions

Under our three core themes, we outline below some possible questions for further exploration. These are indicative, and not restrictive. There are many, many more, so please do frame and explore them, as long as they broadly link to our core themes, and wider political project.

The current conjuncture: rural roots and consequences

  • What is the historical background and contemporary nature of rural transitions, and how are they affecting class, gender relations, rural organisation and wider politics?
  • How have and do rural politics shape populist, exclusionary politics, and what alliances are these political movements forging, around what issues?
  • How have changing rural demographics, including the aging of the farm population and the role of youth and migrants, been affected by and in turn affected the politics of the countryside?
  • How has both gendered and generational dynamics in rural areas influenced political dynamics?
  • To what extent, why and in what ways have populist nationalisms contributed to, drawn from and allied with overtly racist or sectarian religious forces?
  • How is the rural political economy tied to the financial crisis, austerity economics and the collapse of ‘progressive neoliberalism’?
  • How have rural communities dealt with deepening alienation and related problems of substance abuse, deteriorating physical and mental health indicators and cutbacks in medical services delivery?
  • What are the underlying drivers of rural vulnerability and marginalisation, reinforced (following Watts/Peluso) by regimes of truth, rule and accumulation?
  • How have growing inequalities within and between rural areas and cities affected political dynamics?

Resisting, organising and mobilising for an emancipatory rural politics

  • What are the on-going confrontations with capital in rural spaces, and how are these generating new forms of mobilisation around ‘taking back control’ of rural land and resources?
  • How are particular dispossessions in rural spaces – through various forms of ‘grabs’ -being resisted, by whom and through what forms of organisation? What new politics is this generating?
  • Are the new discourses and practices around sustainability and environment generative of a genuinely new politics, and if so how?
  • What forms of ‘intersectional’ mobilisation are occurring, across groups, genders, generations?
  • What connections are being forged between rural and urban resistance movements in the creation of alternatives?
  • How are struggles over redistribution, recognition and rights being connected in rural struggles around land, water and environment?
  • How do informal, unruly styles of politics intersect with more formal organised movements and electoral politics? 
  • How have conflict and violence both closed down and opened up new spaces for politics?

Alternatives: understanding, supporting, creating, deepening and scaling

  • What alternatives, based on collaborative commons, distributed networks, mutualism, sovereignty and solidarity are being generated, around what forms of production, service and provisioning in rural areas (agriculture, food, energy, water, housing)?
  • How are such alternatives being organised in rural areas, and by whom? What are the class, gender, and identity politics of these? What relationships exist with the state and capital?
  • What new forms of open science and technology (ICTs, block-chain registers etc.) provide the opportunities for decentralised, locally-led alternatives? What are the potentials and limitations, and politics of such new (socio)technologies?
  • What new forms of democratic organisation are emerging, with what political implications?
  • How are rural movements connecting locally, regionally, globally, and with other movements more linked to urban areas?
  • How can a big, insurgent empancipatory rural politics to resist and transform the current conjuncture be generated?

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