Call for Papers: Rural History 2017 Panel - Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural Areas in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Europe

RHN 79/2016 | Call

Organisers: Jessica Richter and Ulrich Schwarz (Institute of Rural History, St. Pölten)

11-14 September 2017, Leuven, Belgium

Deadline for submissions: 10 October 2016

Panel at the Rural History 2017 Conference:
Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural Areas in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Europe

While scholars can draw upon rich research on poverty in rural areas in pre-WW I Europe, historical studies on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are comparatively rare, particularly for continental Europe. In most cases, historical research on poverty and social exclusion has adopted a focus on certain countries or regions. Few researchers, however, focussed on differences, interdependencies or similarities between rural and urban contexts.

Recent data published by the European Commission indicates a higher risk of poverty and social exclusion for EU citizens living in rural areas. This study adds to the constantly repeating media reports on increasing poverty in wealthy European states, affecting particularly women, elderly people, manual workers, or lone mothers and families. The recent financial crisis, moreover, has resulted in a widened poverty gap in Europe, dividing especially countries of the European south and north. But already long before the crisis, wealth disparities between European regions had been a well-known problem.

Given this situation, a better understanding of the history of rural poverty in the twentieth century seems desirable. The proposed panel aims to bring researchers together, who concentrate on the interplay between poverty and the fundamental social and economic shifts in rural areas in the course of the twentieth century. But we also invite scholars to apply, who approach livelihood and survival strategies e.g. of rural populations and households as well as researchers focussing on administrative and police practices to support and control the poor.

Submissions may deal with one or more of the following research questions:

  • Who was in which ways affected by poverty and social exclusion in rural areas? Which shapes could social exclusion take?
  • What are/were possible causes of and coping strategies with poverty and social exclusion?
  • What are differences and similarities between rural and urban social exclusion?
  • How can rural poverty in the twentieth century be conceptualised? (Poverty in as much as poverty of rural areas)
  • In which ways did rural social exclusion/inclusion shift in the context of the transformation from agrarian to (post-)industrial societies in the twentieth century?
  • How did the World Wars and political and economic crises affect poverty in rural areas?
  • How did the rural poor organise their livelihoods? How did they link rural and urban spaces e.g. via survival networks and migration?
  • How was rural poverty perceived, debated, regulated, tackled or sanctioned by governments, administrative authorities, courts, churches, charities and societies, trade unions, media or individuals?

In any case, particular attention should be paid to the available source material, data on rural poverty and social exclusion and the methodical and theoretical challenges which contemporary history faces when dealing with data derived from the contemporary social sciences.

We welcome papers on every European region. Submissions from researchers working in fields closely related to rural history, such as food and urban history, gender studies, rural sociology, geography, etc, are highly welcome.

Please send an abstract (max. 250 words) and a short CV to and before October 10 2016.