Crossing divides: ethnicity and rurality

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Askins, Kye (2009)

This paper draws on research with people from African, Caribbean and Asian backgrounds regarding perceptions and use of the English countryside. I explore the complex ways in which the category ‘rural’ was constructed as both essentialised and relational: how the countryside was understood most definitely as ‘not-city’ but also, at the same time, the English countryside was conceived as part of a range of networks: one site in a web of ‘nature places’ across the country, as well as one rural in an international chain of rurals – specifically via embodied and emotional connections with ‘nature’. I argue that alongside sensed/sensual embodiment (the non-representational intuitive work of the body), we need also to consider reflective embodiment as a desire to space/place in order to address the structural socio-spatial exclusions endemic in (rural) England and how they are challenged. I suggest that a more progressive conceptualisation of rurality – a ‘transrural’ open to issues of mobility and desire – can help us disrupt dominant notions of rural England as only an exclusionary white space, and reposition it as a site within multicultural, multiethnic, transnational and mobile social Imaginaries.
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