Session 1: Transitions

Transitions, in a geographical context, can have different meanings. Firstly, we use it to denote rural development processes in (post)-transition countries (PTCs) of Central, Eastern, and Southeast Europe. Secondly, we use it to signify the changes taking place in transitional, liminal, and contact spaces encompassing rural areas around the world. An urban-rural fringe, city region, cross-border rural region, or culturally/ethnically/religiously mixed rural area are some examples that would be suitable, but the list is open to other cases as well. This session welcomes papers that deal with either connotation of transitions from all parts of the world.   

 

1. The term (post)-transition is mostly used to designate countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeast Europe that underwent a change from a centrally-planned economy to a market-based economy starting in the 1990s. This overwhelming and, more often than not, shocking process had some common and some very specific consequences for rural areas, which still influence their development more than 25 years later. Jordan (2015) argued that rural space is still today one of the biggest problems in PTCs, as they were already burdened with demographic and economic problems that resulted in low quality of life during the communist/socialist era. For that reason, hopes for a positive outcome from the political turn, economic liberalisation, and EU integration were very high in rural areas of PTCs.

 

Although the transition in 1990s opened a new window of opportunity by supporting the development of bottom-up initiatives, new governance models, entrepreneurship, and attracting foreign direct investments (which had some positive effects), the majority of rural areas did not see much of the benefit thereof in comparison to urban areas (Jordan, 2017; Kairytè, 2015; Št’astná, 2015). On the other hand, rural areas in city regions (Huemer and Kappeler, 2017; Lukić, 2012), along main developmental axes between large urban centres or borders with more economically-developed countries, and tourist-oriented areas of the countryside experienced a positive dynamic (Havady-Nagy, 2017). As a consequence, after the 1990s, the polarisation of regional development in PTCs deepened along with rising disparities and inequalities. This has often resulted in (youth) outmigration and intensification of depopulation. In the greater part of rural areas in many PTCs, this has become the main developmental challenge for the future (Cosier et al., 2014; Lampič et al., 2015; Manić et al., 2015; Nejašmić et al., 2018; Plešivčák and Buček, 2017; Török, 2013). 

 

Furthermore, the transition of agriculture has been an especially complex and sensitive issue. Changes in ownership (often through extensive selling of agricultural land to foreign buyers that has sometimes led to land grabbing), diverse land restitution models, privatisation of cooperatives, state agricultural enterprises and processing capacities, has had different outcomes throughout PTCs.

 

Some of the questions we invite you to discuss in your papers are: 

  

  • What are the main present-day challenges in the countryside of (post)-transition countries? What are examples of good practices in answering them?    
  • How can the gap the gap in the developmental potentials between rural areas in PTCs and those in more economically-developed European states be reduced? How can agriculture and other economic sectors in PTCs become more competitive?
  • How can a balance between extra-local and local actors in rural development be reached? How can a balance between economic growth, social welfare, and environmental protection be achieved?  
  • How can the social capital of rural areas in PTCs be strengthened, in order to support integral development? 
  • In what way could bottom-up initiatives (e.g. LEADER, CLLD) bring more benefits to local rural communities?
  • How can rural areas in PTCs be made attractive to young people? What strategies and governance models might work and why?
  • What future is there for the countryside in PTCs?

 

2. Apart from the context of (post)-transition countries, the term transition, from geographical point of view, also means the space between two larger or programmatically-different spaces. In such transitional areas, conflicting interests between distinctive needs and functions affecting land use, and perceptions and representations of the rural and its developmental potentials often emerge. For example, the peri-urban fringe, rurban or suburban areas in city regions are typical examples of transition spaces (Robinson et al., 2018). Furthermore, cross-border rural regions between two or more different countries, or the areas in coastal regions where the sea and land meet could also be considered transition spaces from a spatial perspective. Buffer zones around protected nature areas, where environmental protection and socio-economic development often collide might be great examples of transitional zones as well. The list is open to other similar or thematically-related cases that might be a good fit.

         

Possible questions to take into the consideration:

 

  • What are the most pressing issues in city regions (including their rural areas) around the world? Which strategies have been used in order to avoid conflicts between different actors and stakeholders therein?
  • What are good examples of cross-border cooperation in rural regions? How can cross-border cooperation be made a reality in a time of polarised politics and anxiety regarding border security?
  • How can a balance between (over)tourism and natural heritage protection in buffer zones of nature protected areas be struck?
  • How should research transitional (rural) areas be approached? What are the most interesting questions in the research agenda of transitional spaces and places?

 

References:

 

Cosier, J., Šabec, E., Verlič, L., Ponikvar, A., Jenko, I., Klemenčič, K., Gostonj, U., Kežar, M., Gamse, M., Uršič, K., Pavlovič, J., Potočnik Slavič, I., 2014: Under- standing disparities in Slovenian rural areas: various new indicatiors, Geoadria 19 (2), 149-164.

 

Robinson, G.M., Bardsely, D.K., Weber, D. and Moskwa, E., 2018: Urban Sprawl and Peri-Urban Risk: The Wildfire Frontier, in. Paul Carril, V., Camilo Lois Gonzalez, R., Manuel Trillo Santamaria, J. & Haslam McKenize, F. (eds.): 26th Annual Colloquium of the Commission on the Sustainability of Rural Systems of International Geographical Union, «Infinite Rural Systems in a Finite Planet: Bridging Gaps towards Sustainability», Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, 521-528.

 

Havady-Nagy, K.X., Ilovan, O-A., Damyanovic, D., Reinwald, F., Marginean, M., 2017: Advocacy for Participatory Rural Development. A Comparison of Two Case Studies from Romania and Austria, in. Jordan, P. (ed.): ISR-Forschungsbericht Heft 43: New developments in the rural space of Central and South-East Europe, Proceedings of the meeting of the Working Group on Central Europe in conjunction with the German Congress of Geography, Berlin, September 30, 2015., Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Institut für Stadt- und Regionalforschung, Wien, 121-150.

 

Huemer, J. and Kapeller, V., 2017: Regional Potentials in the Border Region Austria-Slovakia: The Project “RegioGoes” Reveals New Settlement and Housing Developments, in. Jordan, P. (ed.): ISR-Forschungsbericht Heft 43: New developments in the rural space of Central and South-East Europe, Proceedings of the meeting of the Working Group on Central Europe in conjunction with the German Congress of Geography, Berlin, September 30, 2015., Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Institut für Stadt- und Regionalforschung, Wien, 49-65.

 

Jordan, P., 2017: Preface, in. Jordan, P. (ed.): ISR-Forschungsbericht Heft 43: New developments in the rural space of Central and South-East Europe, Proceedings of the meeting of the Working Group on Central Europe in conjunction with the German Congress of Geography, Berlin, September 30, 2015., Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Institut für Stadt- und Regionalforschung, Wien, 7-9.

 

Kairytè, E., 2015: Greater Globalization Challenges – Lesser Rural Response: The Case of Alytus County, Lithuania, in. McDonagh, J., Nienaber, B. and Woods, M. (eds.): Globalization and Europe’s Rural Regions, Ashgate, Farnham, 107-124.

 

Lampič, B., Mrak, I. and Potočnik Slavič, I., 2015: Transformation of Rural Slovenia: The Pomurje Region in Search of New Development Paths, in. McDonagh, J., Nienaber, B. and Woods, M. (eds.): Globalization and Europe’s Rural Regions, Ashgate, Farnham, 125-142.

 

Lukić, A., 2012: Mozaik izvan grada: tipologija ruralnih i urbaniziranih naselja Hrvatske, Meridijani, Samobor

 

Manić, E., Popović, S., Stojanović, Ž., 2017: Rural Space Development in Post-Transition Countries: The Case of Serbia, in. Jordan, P. (ed.): ISR-Forschungsbericht Heft 43: New developments in the rural space of Central and South-East Europe, Proceedings of the meeting of the Working Group on Central Europe in conjunction with the German Congress of Geography, Berlin, September 30, 2015., Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Institut für Stadt- und Regionalforschung, Wien, 11-29.

 

Nejašmić, Š., Radeljak Kaufmann, P. and Lukić, A., 2018: Potentials of Croatian karst periphery from the point of view of students from the University of Zagreb, Hrvatski geografski glasnik/Croatian Geographical Bulletin 80 (2), 83-109.

 

Plešivčák, M., Buček, J., 2017: In the centre but still on the periphery: Is there any room for development of socio-economically deprived region in Slovakia?, In- ternational Journal of Social Economics 44 (11), 1539-1558.

 

Št’astná, M., 2015: Globalization and Sustainable Development in South Moravia, in. McDonagh, J., Nienaber, B. and Woods, M. (eds.): Globalization and Europe’s Rural Regions, Ashgate, Farnham, 183-198.

 

Török, I., 2013: Regional Development in Romania: Shaping European Convergence and Local Divergence, Regions Magazine 291 (1), 25-27.