Family farming, water supply and food security in Pernambuco, Brazil

In February the Global-Rural team visited the semi-arid region of Pernambuco, Brazil. This area is home to a unique biome that exists exclusively in Brazil, called Caatinga. This ecosystem is very important from the biological point of view because it has formed a vast biodiversity; rich in genetic resources and vegetation; and it presents unique fauna and flora.

During the first week, Francesca spent some time in the organization of the civil society known as SERTA (Service for Alternative Technologies) in Ibimirim and the last two weeks she visited the organization CECOR (Centre for Communitarian Rural Education) in Serra Talhada. Thanks to these organisations and their networks, Francesca was able to investigate how global issues, such as water supply and food security, are addressed at a local level by family farmers in the semi-arid Caatinga.

The Caatinga in the last four years has suffered of an unprecedented drought which has hindered agricultural production. Although the drought can be considered cyclical, the last years have seen extremely low levels of rain being registered. Some of the respondents connected it to the wider issues relating to climate change and the global warming. This scenario has pushed some of the farmers to search for other sources of incomes. Moreover most of the young population have left for the urban areas or in search of other occupations elsewhere in the country. The harsh conditions generated by the drought have thus reinforced social rural issues such as rural exodus and depopulation. However, this is just one aspect of what is happening in this semi-arid region.

In the last 20 years, civil society organisations are trying to promote agricultural practices and technological solutions that can ameliorate the rural life in the Caatinga. Their objective is not only to deal with the limits and challenges of such semi-arid areas, but rather to emphasise the potentialities of the Caatinga. As one respondent mentioned; “we aim for a cultural change that tries to ‘live with the drought’ rather than to ‘fight the drought’”. Agroecology seems to be

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Technology for Harvesting Rainwater

playing a crucial role in such cultural and technical processes. For instance, the government of Pernambuco funds courses for young people to acquire a technical qualification on agroecology, and supports other programs that aim to provide technical skills linked with agroecological practices to family farmers. Moreover, to reinforce the agricultural production of family farmers, the program “Pernambuco mais Productivo” (Pernambuco more productive) addresses issues of water supply by installing water tanks and other technologies to collect rain water. Organizations such as SERTA and CECOR have therefore the function of implementing such policies and providing the technical and social support to the farmers.

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Agroecology Technique: The Anaerobic Digester

This is clearly a short summary about the case study investigated. The research was based mainly in the municipalities of Ibimirim, Serra Talhada and Santo Cruiz do Baixo Verde and 28 interviews were conducted with young people, family farmers of the rural communities, representative of the Rural Union and collaborators of the two organizations.

At a first glance, this area does not seem to be affected by those violent global processes such as agribusiness or industrialization (mainly located in the specific area of Petrolina).  However we can observe how local assemblages are being mobilised to contest the effects of a mainstream economic development model and how regional strategies are addressing key global challenges.

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Agroecology Course in the Caatinga

 

Researching the development of rural communities in the Metropolitan Region of Salvador, Brazil

In January 2017, Francesca Fois from the GLOBAL-RURAL team travelled to Brazil to investigate how life in rural Brazil has been changed by connections with the global economy and global society and how global issues such as food security and water supply are addressed at the national, regional and local levels. GLOBAL-RURAL aims to explore several case studies across the different Brazilian biomes such as the Atlantic forest, the Caatinga (the semi-arid region), the Amazon forest and the Pampa.

The research started in the Atlantic Forest of Bahia studying how processes of industrialisation and urbanisation have affected the rural areas and, especially, the traditional communities of the Metropolitan Region of Salvador. The research has been undertaken in collaboration with Terra Mirim communitarian foundation located in the Itamboatá valley and the field assistants Daniela Sampaio (Dahvi) and Maria Isabel Nunes (Minah). Since its foundation, Terra Mirim has played a crucial role for promoting a sustainable development and for the recognition of environmental and social rights in the valley.

The research initially focused on studying the Itamboatá valley located in the municipality of Simões Filho but the scale has extended on the Metropolitan Region of Salvador as it is essential to explore the role of Salvador, the Industrial Centres of Aratú and Petrol Chemical Centre of Camaçari to understand the rural dynamics of the valley

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In this context, the research has 3 main research questions:

  1. How has the development of rural areas of the Metropolitan Region of Salvador been affected by the global economy?
  2. How do the rural traditional communities deal with issues of food security and how do the municipalities and government support such programs?
  3. How are issues of water supply and sanitation addressed in these rural areas?

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The research is using semi-structured interviews and in January the team has interviewed more than 40 people from the Metropolitan Region of Salvador such as local governors from Simões Filho and Camaçari; several institutions from the State of Bahia; residents and leaders from traditional rural communities of Terra Mirim, Dandá, Oitero, Palmares, Mapele, Guerrero, Goes Calmon; and collaborators from different organisations of the civil society and universities.

It is early to communicate the results of the research as a qualitative analysis is needed; however, the first impressions are that the rural areas of the valley have so far not been targeted with specifically development programs from the municipality of Simões Filho. The focus has rather been given to support the expansion of the industrial centres, the entrance of global capital and the advancement of the urban areas and the rural communities’ necessities are not addressed. These are some general initial findings; however, more data will be collected in March 2017 and a more detailed analysis is needed to further present the rural dynamics of the Metropolitan Region of Salvador.

For the Portuguese version see: http://terramirim.org.br/comunidades-tradicionais-rurais

 

Call for Papers: European Society for Rural Sociology and RGS-IBG Conferences

Members of the GLOBAL-RURAL team are organising a number of sessions at the forthcoming congress of the European Society for Rural Sociology, in Krakow in July, and at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) conference in London in August. We are currently calling for abstracts for potential papers in these sessions. See below for details.

European Society for Rural Sociology, 24-27 July 2017, Krakow, Poland (website)

SHAPING METHODS, SHAPING VOICES AND THE ENGAGEMENT OF DISCOURSES IN AN AGE OF UNEVEN CHANGE (WG13)

Convenors: Anthonia Onyeahialam and Michael Woods

The process of rural change is uneven, a consequence of the complexity associated with the involvement of the interrelated dimensions of change, actors, stakeholders and diverse places. Capturing these unevenness and its causes is often met with conflict of choice, purpose, voices and representations. In unpacking these to provide answers to rural problems, researchers have progressed beyond, to mix and cross the known traditional methodological boundaries at different points of their research – data collection, analysis, representation and communication. How we choose and reflect on the choices has implications for the type and diversity of knowledge chosen, produced and disseminated in these contemporary times.

This session is to allow researchers to reflect on their choice of methods and to question how it impacts on the creation, production and dissemination of knowledge and the co(s) of them. Thus, we are looking for demonstrable examples of actual work, focusing on how the research was carried out, how it has embraced multiple voices and interpretations of knowledge within the context of the conference theme rather than on details of the work. We seek research that draws on multiple methods within the quantitative to qualitative realms or at its nexus; combine multiple and diverse data sources in new and innovative ways beyond the traditional; research introducing new analytics, techniques such as digital technologies and research designs drawing on contemporary research methods using new types of data – big and small data, visual methodologies like Geographical Information Systems (GIS), mixed methods; how these choices have been used to communicate, (mis)interpret knowledge, exclude or include voices, challenge or re-inforce inequality or justice and influence policy for rural change.

Please send abstracts to aio@aber.ac.uk and m.woods@aber.ac.uk by 13th January 2017.

AGEING, AUSTERITY AND ENGAGEMENT: IMPLICATIONS FOR PARTICIPATION AND KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION IN RURAL CIVIL SOCIETY ACROSS THE LIFECOURSE (WG15)

Convenors: Jesse Heley, Laura Jones and Sophie Yarker

This working group wishes to consider the intersections between uneven processes of economic austerity and population ageing on voluntary organisation in rural communities. Reductions in public sector funding have been keenly felt in many rural areas, where a diversely ageing population faces long-standing issues of accessibility, service proximity, mobility and social isolation. However, the impacts of this context are not only felt by older members of the community but are experienced throughout the voluntary and community sector tasked with responding to these socio-political challenges.

Responding to a call to produce more ‘enlivened’ understandings of volunteering (Smith et al. 2010) this working group wishes to draw on Mills’s (2014) use of a lifecourse analysis to consider the diversity of these multiple knowledges across different ages of volunteers in rural communities. It proposes to explore how the development of such knowledge’s contributes both to the individual as well as the social and economic wellbeing of the communities and organisations concerned.  Such issues are of critical concern in the ongoing context of austerity, where differentiated patterns of volunteer availability and retention, motivation and values, and responsibility and obligation are emerging. Different theoretical approaches, including of Stebbins’ typology of volunteering(Stebbins 2014) , for better understanding the changing social, political and economic climate within which rural volunteering occurs are to be considered.

Please send abstracts to Sophie Yarker (sky1@aber.ac.uk)  by 13th January 2017.

SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND CITIZENS’ INITIATIVES: GEOGRAPHIES, POWER RELATIONS AND DETERMINANTS OF SUCCESS AND IMPACT (WG17)

Convenors: Carol Richards, Robyn Mayes, Michael Woods, Dirk Strijker and Koen Salemink

This working group seeks to encourage critical debate and scholarly collaboration around the geographies, determinants, and impact of social movements and initiatives in rural areas.

A wide range of social movements and citizens’ initiatives play an ever more important role in rural areas, varying from very much locally based initiatives (e.g. managing a village hall) to more globally inspired mobilizations around controversial and ideological topics (e.g. GMOs, palm oil, animal welfare). A common feature in these initiatives and movements, however, are the urban-based discourses which dominate both popular narratives and policy considerations, revealing a complex urban-rural political context.

Developments around rural social movements and initiatives show that some are more successful than others, some regions seem better equipped to start initiatives, and some themes allow for a more prominent mobilization of actors. It appears that the complexity of the tasks, and the competences and perseverance of the organizers, are important determinants for success. There is some evidence that other determinants also play a role, such as the type of objectives, scale, and power of the various actors. Most importantly, though, a common conclusion is that further research is needed to fully grasp and unpack these phenomena.

In this WG we are looking for papers focusing on the geographies of initiatives and movements, and on determinants of success, especially those focusing on the actors involved and power constellations. Initiatives and movements discussed could cover the fields of resource extraction, agricultural practices, (public) service provision, energy, maintenance of public spaces, local economic development, etc. Papers can be exploratory, works in progress, empirical and/or theoretical.

Please send abstracts to Carol Richards (c6.richards@qut.edu.au) and Dirk Strijker (d.strijker@rug.nl) by 13th January.

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Conference, 29 August – 1 September 2017, London, UK (website)

(EN)COUNTERING CHANGE, (DIS)ASSEMBLING PLACENESS

Convenors: Marc Welsh and Sam Saville

Place is a foundational concept in human geography, albeit one conceived in different ways to do different forms of analytical work. From meaning and phenomenological centred notions (Relph, Tuan, Creswell); to their construction as sites of capital accumulation, pools of stability in an ocean of global change (Harvey); to attention to the processual dynamics of the ‘constant becoming’ of place (Pred, Thrift); to Massey’s decentred relational ‘sense of place’; to more applied turns to theorise the making of places (Marsden, Healey), ‘place’ retains conceptual and analytical power.  For all its centrality as a cornerstone of geographical thought and research, for all the studies and analysis that have interrogated, played with and sought to make meaningful the concept we contend that there is still place for an ongoing re-consideration of place.

 We are interested in drawing together insights from different theoretical approaches that triangulate on the matter of place, its making and unmaking, in an increasingly interconnected world. Do recent ‘turns’ and ontological reframings (relational, affective, networked, mobile, virtual, assemblaged and nexused) offer novel ways to examine processes generative of continuity and change coming together in topological and topographical places?

 In this session we seek empirically informed theoretical papers that explore place and placeness in the modern era.

 Contributions might respond to the following questions:

  •  What theoretical approaches can help to capture and interrogate the persistence of placeness when place is conceived as relational, emergent, in a continual state of becoming and shifting instability?
  •  How helpful are turns towards complexity, assemblage and nexus-thinking in thinking about the processes of place? How is place best conceived for this kind of work?
  •  How can geographical insights speak back to those seeking to “make place” or produce a “sense of place”, to enhance placeness?

 The expected format is 15 minute presentation slots with 5 minutes for questions afterwards and a chaired discussion.

Please submit an abstract to the session convenors, Marc Welsh (maw@aber.ac.uk) and Samantha Saville (sms10@aber.ac.uk) of no more than 250 words by Friday 3rd February 2017.

RURAL COSMOPOLITANISM: PEOPLE, LOCALITIES AND MOBILITIES

Convenors: Rhys Dafydd Jones and Michael Woods

Popular narratives of the countryside emphasise its supposed stability and its perceived lack of change and diversity, constructed in opposition to dynamic urban spaces that are nodes in global networks.  In this session we explore the ways in which rural spaces are – and have always been – diverse spaces of encounter, exchange, and interaction.  The last quarter of a century has seen a proliferation of work exploring diversity in the countryside, with much work focussing on the experiences of minority ethnic groups in the countryside, particularly in the context of racism (Garland and Chakraborti, 2004), and a number of authors have started to develop the notion of ‘rural cosmopolitanism’, though in disparate ways (e.g. Gidwani and Sivaramakrishnan, 2003; Notar, 2008; Popke 2011).  More work is needed on other strands of identity, the sites of encountering differences, and ways in which the countryside experiences cosmopolitanism.  We particularly invite contributions that on the following themes:
•       Ethnic and religious diversity in the countryside;
•       Global mobilities and flows through rural spaces;
•       Migration and return migration as drivers of rural cosmopolitanism;
•       Rural sites of exchange and encounter;
•       Tourists as cosmopolitan agents in rural places;
•       Precarity and individual experiences of rural diversity;
•       Rural institutions and accommodating diversity;
•       Cosmopolitanism, consumption and everyday life in the countryside;
•       Cosmopolitan politics of the rural;
•       Cosmopolitanism and rural carcerality;
•       Rural cosmopolitan methodologies;
•       Rural cosmopolitanism as an ethical project;
•       Policy implications.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to both Mike (zzp@aber.ac.uk) and Rhys (rhj@aber.ac.uk) by the 31st January 2017.

When Fidel Castro went tobogganing

News of the death of Fidel Castro has reminded me of a curious story I came across whilst carrying research for the GLOBAL-RURAL project in Newfoundland, Canada, this last summer. It was the early-1970s, and the frostiness of the Cold War was equalled only by the bitterness of the Canadian winter. One anomaly in the geopolitical map, however, was Gander Airport in Newfoundland, where flights between Cuba and the Soviet Union would stop for re-fuelling. So it was on Christmas Eve 1972 Fidel Castro found himself transiting through the small Canadian town and perhaps entranced by the winter wonderland outside (some say it was the first time he had seen snow), set off with his bodyguards to go tobogganing on the gentle slope beneath Hotel Gander, watched by bemused locals.

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Fidel Castro in Gander, Christmas 1972 (Photograph from North Atlantic Aviation Museum, photographer: Ian Blackmore)

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GLOBAL-RURAL at IRSA

Members of the GLOBAL-RURAL research team are at the International Rural Sociology Association congress in Toronto this week and we have a busy schedule of papers and other contributions.

We have organized a Session on ‘Globalization and Everyday Life in Rural Communities’ (IRSA_35), which runs over three sub-sessions on Saturday 13th August:

‘Everyday experiences of agricultural globalization’, 9am – 10.30am, Room TRS1077

‘Communities, mobilities and technologies’, 11am – 12.30pm, Room TRS1077

‘Rural communities in new global economies’, 2pm – 3.30pm, Room TRS1077

There’s also a linked session on ‘Daily Practices in the Global Countryside’ (IRSA_34), organized by Natasha Webster, on Friday 12th, 4pm – 5.30pm, in TRS1077, and we’re combining to hold a panel session on ‘Researching the Everyday Global Countryside’ (IRSA_34B), on Saturday 13th, 4pm – 5.30pm, in TRS1077, chaired by Michael Woods and with panellists Jesse Heley, Branka Kavokapic-Skoko, Rosana Vallejos and Natasha Webster, which will reflect on both sessions and discuss the practice of researching globalization in rural communities.

We’re giving four papers during the week from GLOBAL-RURAL and related research:

Anthonia Onyeahialam and Michael Woods, ‘A globalized gaze into Ikeji Festival: What to the Aros stand to lose or gain?’, Session IRSA_29A, Thursday 11th August, 9-10.30am, Room TRS1119.

Michael Woods, ‘Precarious Rural Cosmopolitanism and Everyday Spaces of Engagement’, Session IRSA_34A, Friday 12th August, 4-5.30pm, Room TRS1077. Presentation slides available here: Precarious rural cosmopolitanism and everyday spaces of engagement

Fidel Budy, ‘Moving out, moving up: out-migration of men contributes to women’s empowerment and autonomy’, Session IRSA_35B, Saturday 13th August, 11am-12.30pm, Room TRS1077.

Marc Welsh, Jesse Heley and Laura Jones, ‘Bottling globalization in rural localities’, Session IRSA_35C, Saturday 13th August, 2-3.30pm, Room TRS1077.

We also have a poster displayed as part of the poster exhibition on Thursday and Friday:

Anthonia Onyeahialam, Laura Jones and Michael Woods, ‘From sheep to shop: the wool assemblage’, part of Session IRSA_70 Poster Presentations and Display, Thursday 11th August 1-5pm and Friday 12th August 8am-5.30pm, Sears Atrium, Engineering Building.

Additionally, Michael Woods will be speaking as a panellist on the book review panel for ‘Constructing A New Framework for Rural Development, edited by Pierluigi Milone, Flammina Ventura and Ye Jingzhong’ (Session IRSA_44B) on Friday 12th August, 11am-12.30pm, in room TRS1129

 

 

Catching-up

We’ve been fairly quiet on here lately as we’ve been busy carrying out research for the GLOBAL-RURAL project in Ireland, New Zealand, Taiwan and here in Wales. There’s lots to report from this research and we’ll be doing so in a series of blog posts shortly.

In the meantime, we have uploaded copies of recent presentations by members of the GLOBAL-RURAL team to our publications and presentations page. These include:

  • Paper presented by Michael Woods at the American Association of Geographers’ Annual Meeting in San Francisco on ‘(Re-)Assembling Foreign Direct Investment in an Irish Small Town’, with some early emergent findings from our research in Ireland. AAG presentation 2016

Wageningen presentation 3

  • Presentation by Jesse Heley and Laura Jones to the SUSPLACE Marie-Curie Training Network at their workshop at Wageningen University, on ‘Researching Rural Change and Globalization’. Wageningen Workshop Presentation

Estonia lecture 1Estonia lecture 4Estonia lecture 5

 

  • Lecture to the Estonian Ministry of Rural Affairs and Estonian National Rural Network by Michael Woods as part of their International Lecture series, discussing ‘Rural Development and Globalization’ with examples from GLOBAL-RURAL and the earlier DERREG project. Estonia presentation Woods
  • Keynote address by Michael Woods on ‘The Rural Routes of Globalization’ to a one-day symposium on ‘Les espaces ruraux périurbains au prisme du capital’ organized by LADYSS at Université Paris 8 at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Paris Nord.The rural routes of globalisation
  • The 2016 J.D.K. Lloyd Lecture presented to the Powysland Club in Newtown by Michael Woods on ‘Newtown and the World: Everyday globalisation in a Powys town’, exploring historical and contemporary global connections. Newtown and the World
  • Plenary lecture on ‘Assemblage, Globalization and the State’, presented by Michael Woods to the Warwick Political Geography Conference on (Dis)Assembling State Spaces. Warwick assemblage paper

We’ve also welcomed two new members to the GLOBAL-RURAL team, post-doc researcher Francesca Fois and postgraduate researcher Fidel Budy, whose details are on the research team page.

Finally, if you are interested in following our research on ‘everyday globalization’ in our case study of Newtown in mid Wales, check out our new Assembling Newtown website, which presents emerging findings and stories from the study and has information about our ongoing research activities and how people in the community can get involved.

 

Call for Papers: Two Sessions on Everyday Globalization and Rural Life, IRSA 2016 Toronto

TWO SESSIONS ON EVERYDAY GLOBALIZATION AND RURAL LIFE AT IRSA 2016 TORONTO

Paper proposals are invited for two related sessions on ‘Daily Practices and Global Countrysides’ and ‘Globalization and Everyday Life in Rural Communities’ at the International Rural Sociology Association Congress, 10-14 August 2014 at Ryerson University, Toronto.

Details of the sessions are outlined below. Session 34 focuses in particular on migration and mobility, whilst Session 35 engages with a wider range of globalization processes and experiences. The session organizers will liaise in the selection of papers and papers may be moved between the sessions to produce coherent groupings of topics.

Paper abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted through the conference website by 1 November 2015. Successful submissions will be notified by 15 January 2016 and presenters will be expected to register for the conference by 1 April 2016.

SESSION 34: DAILY PRACTICES AND GLOBAL COUNTRYSIDES

Organizer: Natasha Webster, Stockholm University

International migration to rural areas is a growing trend in many countries and this trend is an important part of social and economic development (Hedberg and Haandrikman, 2014). Rural migration stems from many contexts including refugee placement, family connections, marriage migration and labour migration. These migrants bring to rural areas a plethora of translocal and transnational social relations that are maintained and stretched across rural social spheres (Woods, 2012).

This session focuses upon relational mobilities of the global countryside and understanding the specifities of rural mobilities within the context of daily practices. Mobility is understood as multifaceted, spatial and temporal where daily practices, for example, cooking or telecommunications, are seen as creating translocal and/or transnational relations. This point of departure challenges not only traditional views of migration as a one-way flow but also underscores the role of rural migrants as builders of rural spaces and places. In exploring daily practices of global countrysides we invite papers that examine a wide range of mobility perspectives including gender, race, class, and sexualities within these contexts as well as issues of rural belonging, inclusion and exclusion from a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives.

SESSION 35: GLOBALIZATION AND EVERYDAY LIFE IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

Organizers: Michael Woods, Jesse Heley, Laura Jones and Marc Welsh, Aberystwyth University

The study of globalization in a rural context has commonly focused on large scale structural changes, transnational commodity chains, or dramatic examples of deindustrialization, land-grabs, mass migration or rapid transformation into tourist resorts. For the majority of rural communities, however, globalization is experienced in more incremental and mundane ways. Processes of economic globalization alter employment opportunities and conditions, raise or depress income levels, and change patterns of local service provision. International in-migrants and returnee migrants can foster cultural hybridity, but also create competition for housing and jobs, whilst the emigration of migrant labours can require remaining residents to take on new roles and adapt their lifestyles. Global communications technologies can overcome social and physical isolation, open up new opportunities for education, leisure and business, stretch social networks, and encourage new aspirations, but also facilitate cultural globalization, challenging established traditions.

This session calls for papers from all parts of the world that examine the impact of globalization on everyday life in small towns and rural communities. Possible topics include, but are not restricted to:

  • The impact of foreign direct investment, corporate takeovers, plant closures or migrant labour on employment opportunities and conditions;
  • The insertion into small towns and rural communities of supermarkets and corporate chains, access to internet shopping, changes to consumer behaviour and the consequences for local businesses;
  • The effects of lifestyle and economic migration on housing and public services, intra-community relationships and community events, including the introduction of new foods, languages and cultural practices;
  • The role of global communication technologies in reconfiguring social relations, the consumption of popular culture, education opportunities and aspirations, including for young people and previously marginalized lifestyle groups;
  • Pressures from globalized values on local customs and traditions, including hunting and land and animal husbandry;
  • Out-migration, changing gender roles and the contribution of remittances.