Changing constructions of rurality and rural-urban relationships in a post-productivist era-I

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Rural Geography Specialty Group, China Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Congressional A, Omni, West
Organizers: Shenjing He, Darren Smith
Chairs: Shenjing He


Conventionally, rurality is depicted as an inferior or even a colonised subject, as opposed to its urban counterpart. Yet, the increasing magnitude of rural-urban mobilities and shifting and blurring rural-urban boundaries are problematising the long-lasting rural-urban dichotomy. Rural-urban interfaces no longer mark the beginning and end of rurality or urbanity, but accommodate vibrant hybridities and mobilities. Globally, these changes beg new interpretations of rurality and rural-urban relationships.

In developed western economies, e.g. the UK and Western Europe, urban immigrants’ colonisation of rurality is not to isolate rural localities from the urban world. Instead, rural gentrification reconstituted the rural space into “something more akin to that of the urban”, both materially and culturally, which narrows the rural-urban discrepancy rather than strengthens the dichotomy (Phillips, 2005; Smith and Holt, 2005). The rural-urban boundary is obscured by the implantation and expansion of boutiques, special stores, clubs, chain stores, gated mansions and the urban lifestyles attached to them (Ghose, 2004). Meanwhile, rural gentrification reinforces the inter-connections and inter-mobilities between urban and rural places, and turns the rural into a place for the gentrifiers to negotiate and mediate between their quality-of-life aspirations and constraints they faced in an urban society (Smith and Higley, 2012). Rural gentrifiers act as the conspicuous propagandists for rural culture, connecting and cross-fertilising the connotations of rurality and urbanity (Jones, 1995).

In those developing economies such as China, where rural gentrification and amenity migration are not yet prevalent, villages in the peri-urban areas are proactively sought for opportunities to revitalise its economy in a post-productivist era (Qian, He et. al., 2013). For instance, in the most developed and highly urbanised regions in China, some social groups and institutional actors are seeking new ways to redefine rurality and rural-urban relationships. The recent national campaign of building the ‘beautiful countryside’ and the discourse of rural nostalgia have whipped up a heat wave of rural (re)development/revitalisation across the country through creative/cultural industries and tourism development. To cater for urban middle class’ preferences of cultural and leisure consumption, city governments also enthusiastically embrace these opportunities to support villages’ (re)development. A reciprocal relationship between these villages and cities has been formed to push for the “beautiful villages” campaign, and this gives rise to new forms of rural-urban integration.

To tap into the constantly shifting notions of rurality and rural-urban relationships, as well as their various spatial outcomes against a general background of post-productivism, this session calls for contributions addressing the following issues from different contexts:

1) changing connotations of rurality and rural-urban relationship
2) the shifting contour of rural-urban interface
3) the restructuring of rural economies and societies
4) rural revitalisation/redevelopment
5) economic prospects, cultural revitalisation, and social inclusion/marginalisation of the rural


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Darren Smith*, Loughborough University, Martin Phillips, University of Leicester, Navigating the interface between rural and urban geographies of gentrification 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Peter Nelson*, Middlebury College, Geographies of Rural Gentrification in Time and Space 20 8:20 AM
Presenter PEIPEI CHEN*, University of Southampton, Nick Clarke, University of Southampton, Brian J Hracs, University of Southampton, Rural tourism makers and rural regeneration in China 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Xiang Yan*, , Shenjing He, University of Hong Kong, Urbanizing the Therapeutic Landscapes: Health Tourism and Unhealthy Urbanization in Bama, China 20 9:00 AM
Discussant Martin Phillips UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER 20 9:20 AM

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