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


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?


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:


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)


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 and by 13th January 2017.


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 (  by 13th January 2017.


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 ( and Dirk Strijker ( by 13th January.

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


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 ( and Samantha Saville ( of no more than 250 words by Friday 3rd February 2017.


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 ( and Rhys ( 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.


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

Continue reading


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




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


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.


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.


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.

Reflections on a Summer of Conferences

By Michael Woods, 12th September 2015

As the nights start drawing in it’s time to reflect on a busy summer of conferences for the GLOBAL-RURAL team. Since the end of June, we’ve presented eight papers and a poster at six different academic conferences, starting with the WISERD conference in Cardiff, and continuing with the Quadrennial UK-US-Canadian Rural Geography Conference, the IGU’s Commission on the Sustainability of Rural Systems Colloquium in Portugal, the European Society for Rural Sociology Congress in Aberdeen, and most recently, the Royal Geographical Society’s Annual International Conference in Exeter. Nor is the conference season over quite yet, with Anthonia Onyeahialam presenting maps from the ‘Visualizing the Global Countryside’ strand of our work at the Open Source GIS conference in Korea this coming week.

Copies of our presentations to these conferences can be found on our publications and presentations page, but the value of participating in academic conferences for us is not just in talking about our research (and receiving helpful feedback and questions and suggestions), but also in hearing about the research that other people are doing – and right now there’s a lot of interesting work on globalization and rural areas going on. So here’s my brief reflections on some highlights of the summer, and some of the things that I’ve learned.

A glimpse of the alpha version StoryMap tour of Newtown

A glimpse of the alpha version StoryMap tour of Newtown

Back in July, it was our pleasure to host the 8th Quadrennial UK-US-Canadian Rural Geography Conference – together with Swansea University – and to guide 35 rural geographers from Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States around Wales with an intensive programme of presentations, field visits and croquet. For the GLOBAL-RURAL team it was a unique opportunity not only to report on our on-going study of everyday globalization in the mid Wales town of Newtown, but to try out some innovative methods for disseminating this work. So it was that we despatched our geographer guinea-pigs out on to the streets of Newtown with tablets and smart-phones loaded with a Storymap tour of the town and its global connections. The exercise usefully (if frustratingly) demonstrated some of the technical challenges that this method of communication faces, but also elicited some excellent feedback from our colleagues about the content and style of presentation that will help us to refine this approach. It was also a great exercise for prompting us to think about  how Newtown as a place has been assembled over time and the recurrent influence of global connections in this process, from investment of Davies family money derived from coal exports, to the internationalization of the wool trade, to the legacy of Newtown-born, cooperative-pioneer Robert Owen – about which Marc Welsh has written on our Assembling Newtown blog.

Trying out our Newtown tour

Trying out our Newtown tour

The conference theme was ‘Global Challenges and Rural Responses’ and many of the papers provided insights into the ways in which globalization is re-shaping rural economies, societies and communities. Several presentations explored the dynamics of local and global food systems, with Renata Blumberg, for example, describing the rise of alternative food networks in Lithuania and Latvia as a response to the global economic crisis, and Damian Maye revealing the different emphases of food security discourses in different countries. Margareta Lelea, meanwhile, demonstrated the complexities of global-local interactions, discussing how the adoption of international standards for food safety in Kenya had undermined local food networks and the capacity of rural communities to feed themselves. Other papers focused on international migration and the diversifying cultural mix of rural regions. Dick Winchell, for instance, showed how Latino immigration in Washington State maps on to areas of post-war rural modernization and irrigation programmes; whilst Levi van Sant presented a sobering corrective, charting the dwindling numbers of African-American farmers in South Carolina during the twentieth century. Martin Philips, Peter Nelson and Darren Smith in a trio of papers presented early work from the fascinating iRGENT project, investigating international perspectives on rural gentrification, with Darren coining the term ‘Sothebyisation’ to describe the role of transnational real estates in developing an international market in elite property sales. Finally, a reminder of the persistence of the periphery in the age of globalization came from Ryan Gibson, with a discussion of the challenges faced by the Strait of Belle Isle region in Canada, with capital extracted by multi-nationals and local capacity compromised by a segmented political geography.


Croquet break at the UK-US-Canadian Rural Geography Conference

Croquet break at the UK-US-Canadian Rural Geography Conference

Participants in the UK-US-Canadian Rural Geography Conference in Aberystwyth

Participants in the UK-US-Canadian Rural Geography Conference in Aberystwyth


A fortnight later, the IGU Commission on the Sustainability of Rural Systems Colloquium in Portugal provided me with an opportunity to talk about rural responses to globalization in a keynote lecture, drawing on the GLOBAL-RURAL case study of the closure of the Moreton sugar mill in Nambour, Australia, as an impact of global economic restructuring, which I’ve discussed in a previous blog post. It is, however, the conference fieldtrips that stick in my mind as illustrating the impact of globalization in the Portuguese countryside, and confirming that these impacts are not necessarily new. A visit to the Duoro wine-producing region, in particular, provided evidence of how the distinctive viticulture-based economy and landscape of the region had been assembled over time from the combination of the region’s unique climate and topography, the business acumen of British port merchants (whose names still adorn the vine-clad hillsides), the development of export markets in 18th century Europe and North America, and, critically, the grafting of American and European vines in the late 19th century to enable the vineyards to survive the plague of phylloxena, which botanical collectors had inadvertently introduced to Europe.

Branding of British-founded port companies in the Duoro landscape

Branding of British-founded port companies in the Duoro landscape

Destinations of international trade in port, 18th century (from Duoro Museum)

Destinations of international trade in port, 18th century (from Duoro Museum)









The port wine assemblage continues to dominate the region today, but other sites visited revealed more recent international influences: from the Korean company investing in solar power farms north of Lisbon, to entrepreneurs reviving artisan salt-pan production for niche export trade, to the small town of Ponte de Lima attracting tourists with an International Garden Festival.

Reviving artisan salt pans on Ilha da Morraceira

Reviving artisan salt pans on Ilha da Morraceira


The International Garden Festival in Ponte de Lima









From Portugal to Scotland, and the GLOBAL-RURAL team were out in force for the European Society for Rural Sociology congress in Aberdeen, including an excellent pre-congress workshop on Digital Technologies and Visual Research Methods organized by the James Hutton Institute, which sharpened our ideas and techniques for trying visual methods in our Newtown case study. In the conference proper, Laura Jones and Jesse Heley presented on our research on the entanglement of the Welsh wool industry in the global wool assemblage, detailing how the introduction and refinement of non-human components have facilitated re-configurations that have enrolled Welsh farmers in international networks at the cost of local traceabiity (Laura has also written about this research in a blog post). Elsewhere, an impressive series of papers interrogated the dynamics of international migration in rural areas, with examples from across Europe and beyond. My own paper discussing the interesting case of Chinese farmers in late colonial Queensland as a possible example of early rural cosmopolitanism (which I will discuss further in a later blog post), was neatly complemented by Branka Kravokapic Skoko’s presentation on contemporary rural cosmopolitanism in Australia today, including the remarkable story of Katanning, WA, a small agricultural town with a mosque at its heart and strong inter-faith and inter-cultural relations. Ingrid Machold, meanwhile, demonstrated how international migration is responsible for the positive demographic balance in rural Austria; whilst Robyn Mayes’s paper in the same working group raised important questions about the body in international labour migration and the global circulation of a corporate workforce in sectors such as mining.

Finally, we returned to our theoretical framework at the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) Conference in Exeter, convening an exhilarating session on Assembling Globalization. We used our own paper to test out our developing thoughts on how to operationalize an assemblage approach to analysing the affects of globalization on place; but my mind was left reeling by the barrage of ideas and arguments from the other contributions to the session. Andy Davies countered our DeLanda-influenced approach with a strident call for a more radical assemblage theory, truer to its Guattarian roots, whilst Martin Jones’s barn-storming paper advocated the concept of plasticity as a fix to assemblage theory’s perceived weaknesses. Tarje Wanvik and Havard Haarstad’s paper on carbonscapes introduced the interesting idea of an ‘assemblage converter’ to describe the role played by the world oil price in affecting change in the landscapes of Alberta and Norway; whilst Martin Mulligan explored assemblage perspectives towards community resilience, and papers by Mor Shilon and Clara Rivas Alonso presented rich empirical applications of assemblage theory in urban analysis, examining case studies of Ben Gurion Airport in Israel and struggles over urban space in Istanbul respectively. I for one left Exeter with much to think about, a long list of reading to follow-up, and a desire to continue the dialogue in other forums.

So it’s been a hectic but stimulating summer and we have returned to Aberystwyth charged up with new ideas and possibilities that will be finding their way into the GLOBAL-RURAL research as we launch into the next round of fieldwork in Wales and Ireland this autumn.