“GLOBAL-RURAL. The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization”, research project

“GLOBAL-RURAL aims to advance our understanding of the workings and impact of globalization in rural regions through the development and application of new conceptual and methodological approaches. Globalization has a pervasive influence in transforming rural economies and societies, with implications for the major societal challenges of environmental change and resource security. However, in comparison to studies of the global city, relatively little research has focused on the ‘global countryside’, and existing research lacks integration. GLOBAL-RURAL will develop an integrated perspective by drawing on relational analysis (and particularly the approaches of ‘assemblage theory’ and ‘countertopography’) to focus on the actual mechanics by which rural localities are ‘re-made’ through engagement with globalization processes, examining the mediating effect of national and regional context and the opportunity for local interventions. The research will be organized through five work packages. WP1 will develop the methodological application of assemblage theory to analysing the global countryside, informed by case studies in 6 countries. WP2 will combine GIS analysis of quantitative and qualitative data to produce new narratives and visualisations of globalization processes, impacts and responses. WP3 will focus on mundane, ‘everyday globalization’ in a Welsh small town, using a countertopographic methodology. WP4 will apply the assemblage methodology developed in WP1 to analysing the differential global engagement of rural localities in Brazil, China and Tanzania. WP5 will apply the methodology to examine conflicts around renewable energy schemes, mining and water projects and industrial agriculture in rural areas, and the implications for strategies to address global challenges. A sixth work package, WP6, will identify the policy applications of the research, and disseminate research findings to academic and non-academic users.”

Polish-German Border Towns: Models of Transnationalism?

Border towns 1.JPG

Funded by the British Academy this project investigates the transformations of public space in interface areas of the German-Polish ‘twin towns’ of Frankfurt-Slubice, Guben-Gubin and Görlitz-Zgorzelec along the Oder-Neisse border. Despite modest populations, the border towns have major symbolic value for two nations attempting to write a new chapter in a modern history marked by war, trauma and deep resentments. The eastward expansion of the EU has propelled the towns from the margins to the heart of Europe. Cultural and socio-economic divisions nevertheless run deep. With the opening of the borders in 2007 changing physical realities are dramatically impacting possibilities of transnational interactions. This project offers the first comparative study of the border towns and specifically the role of spatial settings in cross-border exchange. This allows for a more contextual account of the relationship between social practice and place in German-Polish twin towns and sheds light on how communities use urban environments to cope with legacies of conflict and ongoing ethno-national difference.

Principal Investigator: Dr Maximilian Sternberg

Associated researcher: Lefkos Kyriacou

Photographer: Matthias Schumann (www.monofoto.de)