Call for Papers: Rural History 2017 Panel - Politics in the Periphery: Transition,Transformation, Politicisation and Representation in the Rural World

RHN 96/2016 | Call

Organiser: Daniel Brett (Open University, UK)
11-14 September 2017, Leuven, Belgium


Panel at the Rural History 2017 Conference:
Politics in the Periphery: Transition, Transformation, Politicisation and Representation in the Rural World

Political life in the countryside is often overlooked by historians and political scientists. The peripheral nature of rural society and the declining economic power of the countryside means that academic attention has often focused elsewhere. When political life has been studied it has generally taken a top-down approach, the voices of the rural population are scarcely heard. However, the countryside is where the impact of socio-economic change has often been felt first and most sharply, serving as the 'canary in the mine' for wider society, and where the consequences of change have been played out in rural politics. This panel seeks to explore the relationship between represented and representatives in the countryside.

Adopting Suzanne Berger's definition that politicization takes place 'when individuals or communities perceive the links between local events and the problems of private life, on the one hand, and national political events and structures on the other.' (Berger, 1972) The need for or the attempt to 'represent' rural communities is a response to this politicization. We pose the following questions: What do the rural interests under study understand by 'representation' at the outset? Is it something for themselves or for others to provide? Why is representation important to them? How do they attempt to achieve representation? How well do they get on? What explains how well or otherwise they get on? What implications follow from how they get on?

In the face of the 'triple crisis of the countryside': declining economic power, the declining population and the absence of political representation at the centre, how did representative groups in the countryside deal with this? Given the heterogeneity of rural society, its stratification and the deep economic and social divisions (small and medium farmers, generational, status, etc) how did 'internal' conflicts in rural society play out in the quest to represent the countryside? To what extent did this become an arena for small arms fire in the rural class conflict?

This panel takes a bottom up approach to rural politics – seeking to restore the voice the rural population. It marries historical and contemporary cases to produce a deeper and more nuanced view of rural society and political life in the countryside. This is a broad comparative panel considering the full range of political organizations active in the countryside both in terms of ideology and the practice of politics, from democratic to authoritarian as well as different political systems. To gain a wider sense of the similarities and variations it intends to draw upon a range of cases from different parts of the world and different periods of time.

If you are interested please contact Daniel Brett:

Note that this is only for expressions of interest in joining a session (which will have to be approved by the conference scientific committee)