Call for Papers: The transformation of politics in the countryside and the rural-urban political cleavage, 1789-1945

RHN 164/2018 | Call

Organisers: Corinne Marache (Bordeaux), Juan Pan-Montojo (Madrid) and Leen Van Molle (Leuven)

4-5 April 2019, Bordeaux, France

Closing date for abstract submissions: 15 December 2018


Call for Papers for the Workshop:
The transformation of politics in the countryside and the rural-urban political cleavage, 1789-1945

This workshop will be organised in the framework of the CORN network (Comparative Rural History Network) that aims at addressing the topic of inequality and power distribution in rural societies between the 15th and the 20th century. During the first meeting of the network, two of the organisers of the upcoming workshop, Van Molle and Pan-Montojo, accepted the task of dealing with the inequalities derived from political participation. A first working-session took place in Belfast, during the ESSHC of 2018, under the title “Nationalisation of rural politics”. Corinne Marache has joined us since then, and has kindly offered her university as the location for a second meeting.

As already discussed in Belfast, the workshop in Bordeaux will be based on certain premises. We understand politics as processes of collective decision-making and, hence, as the processes, institutions, cultures, and material and immaterial resources that determine the distribution of power to define and impose decisions.  We assume that in modern times, the basic factor that determined the shape and the extent of political asymmetries between rural and urban societies was the rhythm and features of the process of political integration of local communities in the countryside in national politics, as redefined by national states. Such a process was not necessarily continuous or cumulative, nor unilateral or teleological, and, maybe, it should be understood as a series of unequal and open-ended processes.

In this context, our working group within the CORN network aims to increase the understanding of what we might call the transition from local/parochial politics to supra-local/mass/national politics in Europe. Our chronology wants to cover the period from the French Revolution to the Second World War, and we aim to answer the following questions:

  1. Which were the reasons for this transition? How was this transition? What chronology did it have? Can a common or similar process or set of processes be identified across Europe?
  2. What/who were the influential vectors/agents/networks via which the rural and the outer/urban world connected and negotiated politics?
  3. What was the outcome for the rural community? Was it the same or varied throughout the transition in its different phases? (acculturation, hybridisation, economic reorganisation, peasant differentiation, conflicts between communities in the countryside…)
  4. What was the outcome for national politics? (role of agrarian or rural parties, role of discourses on rural society in national politics, transforming power of rural masses…)

At the present state of research, we cannot construct a European narrative that covers this transition or transitions throughout the continent. We would like to assemble a group of 15-20 researchers who can present papers dealing with one or more of the above-mentioned topics regarding a diversity of European regions, in order to define collectively the concepts and transnational, comparative and croisé elements that will enable us to advance towards a history of the nationalisation of peasant politics. Since we have a limited amount of time and financial means, we will prefer those proposals that are comparative, or supranational, or – being local – stretch over a longer period of time.

We want to have a full presentation and discussion of all papers in Bordeaux, so as to enable us to publish eventually a collective book before the end of the CORN project in 2022.

Therefore, we encourage all researchers interested in these topics to send us a proposal, including a title and a 300-words abstract, by the 15th of December. We will then draw a final programme, on the basis of the proposals and with the objective of achieving a wide coverage of our topic and subtopics, both geographically and chronologically. The selection of papers will be communicated to all by the 15th of January.  Accommodation and meals will be covered by the organisers of the workshop. Whether the transport costs of the participants will be partially or fully refunded is to be decided later.

Corinne Marache (Bordeaux),
Juan Pan-Montojo (Madrid),
Leen Van Molle (Leuven),