Session 3: Mobilities

The entire world seems to be on the move. Asylum seekers, international students, terrorists, members of diasporas, vacationers, business people, sports stars, refugees, backpackers, commuters, retired people, young mobile professionals, prostitutes, armies—these and many others fill the world's airports, buses, ships, and trains. The scale of it all is immense. (Sheller and Urry, 2006).

All these movements and migrations also have a spatial and temporal dimension. From North to South and South to North, from East to West and West to East, from rural to urban—and then back to (more-than-representational) rural (Halfacree, 2013)—sometimes temporary, sometimes seasonal or permanent…people have always been on the move, why should they stop now? It is not only people, however, that are moving in space. In the new mobility paradigm (Sheller and Urry, 2006) ‘places are like ships, moving around and not necessarily staying in one location’. Barcus (2018) explained that the term ‘mobilities turn’ in Geography involves ‘a shifting of conceptualizations of spatial mobilities and fosters questions about the linkages to social mobilities’.

 

This session is open to the exploration of both traditional and novel forms of migration and other mobilities, which involve “the rural”, regardless of whether rural is understood to be a material, representational, or imagined place. Voluntary or forced migrations, motivated by production or consumption patterns, physical or virtual mobilities are just some of the examples that might also fit this session.

 

Migrations have traditionally been an important part of geographical inquiry, in which “the rural” has always played a very significant role. In the period of industrialisation and urbanisation during 19th and 20th century, out-migration from the countryside was the dominant demographic process. Migration to urban areas, despite all the challenges associated with reassembling social networks and finding opportunities for rural migrants (Barcus, 2018), clearly outweighed the costs of staying in the countryside in most cases. In the Global North, this unidirectional movement has been complemented by inverse movement over the last fifty years, recognised under different terms and concepts, e.g. ex-urban residential movement, rural-in migration, counter-urbanisation, amenity migrations, rural gentrification, and very recently neo-rural in-migrations. Drivers and implications for the local community, and relations between locals and newcomers have been researched. An imaginary rural idyll has been recognised as having importance both for ex-urban dwellers and returning rural migrants (Cawely, 2018). However, there are many examples showing the unstable nature of assumptions that pro-rural migration is driven exclusively and/or predominantly by social representations of rurality, no matter how idyllic they might be (Jetzkowitz et al., 2007; Munkejord, 2006; Halfacree and Jesús Rivera, 2012). There is a plethora of evidence that cultural constructions of idealised rurality are usually intrinsically interwoven with global economic restructuring (especially the increase in itinerant entrepreneurs and/or service workers) and demographic trends (increases in the tendency of the population between 50 and 60 years of age to migrate to rural areas) (Nelson et al., 2010). Rivera (2013:28) proposed a more holistic view regarding understanding migrations ‘as the complex connection of diverse factors: economic circumstances, spatial representations about the rural and the urban, expectations about rural life and the community, spatial and labour needs and restrictions…’.

On the other hand, there are many parts of the world where depopulation of rural areas is still the most dominant process. In Europe, new EU member states have often experienced (re)intensification of rural depopulation due to out-migration of young workers to more developed countries. Furthermore, the scale and intensity of refugee movements have had immense consequences for rural areas. Keyong (2018) has shown that one of the main outcomes of refugee influx in rural Turkey was not only concern, but confusion among the local rural population. First seen as problem, refugees are more and more perceived as a potential solution for the agricultural labour shortage. This transnational labour migration of a different (perhaps voluntary) kind is also common in many borderland areas, and involves complex and interconnected aspects for migrants, e.g. adaptation, impact on identities, transformations of ethnicity, and de-territorialisation (Kim, 2018).  

 

This session welcomes contribution on various aspects of mobilities, migration, and movement involving local and global rural areas. We encourage you to think about:

 

  • What are the current trends in mobilities and migration involving rural areas in your region?
  • How can disciplinary boundaries in understanding motivations, paths, and consequences of traditional and novel forms of migrations and mobilities involving rural areas be crossed?
  • When does migration start and when does it finish?
  • How is mobility different from migration in the context of rural studies?
  • Are there any differences in challenges of reassembling social networks and opportunities between urban and rural and returning rural migrants? If so (or not), why?
  • Where are rural in-migrants running into tension and trouble regarding their expectations and everyday experiences? How does this contribute to forming new rural relations, images, etc.?
  • What are the drivers and implications for the local community and relations between locals and newcomers?
  • What is the role of consumption society, involving leisure activities, tourism and recreation, second-homes etc., in mobilities and migrations to/from rural areas?  
  • How do advancements in transport and communication technologies influence patterns and forms of mobilities and migration involving rural areas?
  • How do spatial representations combine with other factors to motivate and enable movement (Rivera, 2013:29)?
  • What are the opportunities and threats presented by the influx of refugees in rural areas?

 

 

References:

Barcus, H.R., 2018: Rural Migrant Aspirations: Trajectories of Social Mobility for Kazakh Ethnic Minority Migrants, 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, 473-479.

 

Cawely, M., 2018: Realities and Idyllic Imaginaries in Irish Rural Outmigration and Return, 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, 280-286.

 

Halfacree, K., 2013: Running Wild in the Country?: Mobilising Rural In-Migration, in. Silva, L. and Figueiredo, E. (eds.): Shaping Rural Areas in Europe, Perceptions and Outcomes on the Present and the Future, Springer, Dordrecht, 11-23.

 

Halfacree, K. and Jesús Rivera, M., 2012: Moving to the Countryside... and Staying: Lives beyond Representations, Sociologia Ruralis 52 (1), 92-114.

 

Jesús Rivera, M.J., 2013: Translating Ex-Urban Dwellers’ Rural Representations into Residential Practices and Rural Futures, in. Silva, L. and Figueiredo, E. (eds.): Shaping Rural Areas in Europe, Perceptions and Outcomes on the Present and the Future, Springer, Dordrecht, 25-39.

 

Jetzkowitz, J., Schneider, J. and Brunzel, S., 2007: Suburbanisation, Mobility and the “Good Life in the Country”: A Lifestyle Approach to the Sociology of Urban Sprawl in Germany. Sociologia Ruralis  47 (2), 148-171.

 

Kim, D.C., 2018: Transnational Migration and Rural Transition along China’s Borderland, 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, 426-431.

 

Kyeong, K.S., 2018: Socio-Spatial Transformation of Rural Areas with the Influx of Syrian Refugees into Turkey: A Look at Çukurkuyu Town (Nigde Prefecture), 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, 302-307.

 

Munkejord, M. C., 2006: Challenging Discourses on Rurality: Women and Men In-migrants’ Constructions of the Good Life in a Rural Town in Northern Norway, Sociologia Ruralis 46 (3), 241-257.

 

Nelson, P. B., Oberg, A. and Nelson, L., 2010: Rural Gentrification and Linked Migration in the United States, Journal of Rural Studies 26, 343-352.

 

Sheller, M. and Urry, J., 2006: The new mobilities paradigm, Environment and Planning A 38, 207-226.