Rural identity and otherness

Agyeman, Julian and Neal, Sarah (2009). Rural identity and otherness. In: Kitchin, Rob and Thrift, Nigel eds. International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Volume 5. Oxford, United Kingdom: Elsevier Ltd, pp. 227–281.




While rural populations and places are fluidly and diversely constituted, in governmental and popular thinking there are very fixed ideas as to ‘who is’ rural and who ‘legitimately’ inhabits rural spaces. Rural studies approaches, influenced by sociological and postcolonial debates about identity and otherness, have increasingly engaged in an analysis of the concept of rurality and the representational work rurality does in marking boundaries between socially included and socially excluded populations, that is, those populations considered not ‘of’ the rural or as having contentious claims to a place within rural spaces. In particular, ethnicity and the idea of the rural as a racialized, representational, and material space has been a key concern of rural studies. While there has been extended work in this area, this has mainly occurred in the context of England and Englishness. There is increasing interest as to the extent to which the rural otherness debates are nationally bounded or whether these debates, or parts of them, are more globally applicable.

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