Rural Land Use and Community Research Network

Thursday, 22 June 2017


Dr Hedda Askland and colleagues from UON and Europe have been awarded funding by the Faculty of Education and Arts (FEDUA) to establish the Rural Land Use and Community Research Network to bring together local and international scholars working in the area of rurality and community, rural land use change and conflict, and migration and mobility. The aim of the network is to explore rurality (as locality) through the lens of global movement, as it manifests through the movement of people (e.g. urban-­‐rural migration, asylum seekers and refugees), minerals (e.g. coal and gas), and agricultural products.

Rural Land Use and Community Research Network

Throughout history, local places have been shaped through meetings between local populations and global forces. Physical and social landscapes have been altered through conquest and settlement, at the same time presenting destructive and creative potentials connecting localities with global entities. At the periphery of global politico-­‐economic realities, rural places have become sites of contestation; locations in which debates about the commons and structural inequalities manifest.

Drawing together scholars from anthropology, human geography, tourism, business, law and planning, as well as leading scholars in the field of balanced land use, land and politics, the vexed questions of land, place and coexistence will be advanced. A cross-­‐disciplinary, cross-­‐thematic network of this kind, in which the local (micro) histories are different, will offer new opportunities to investigate some of the key (macro) issues of our time, including migration, displacement, economic transitions, land use and community wellbeing.

Through interdisciplinary discussion, the network will facilitate discussions of themes such as rurality, mobility, migration, displacement, indigeneity, land and land use. The network aims to provide a more contemporary and innovative perspective on rural studies; challenging many of the traditional views on the ‘role of the rural’ in rapidly changing rural settings.

The network is aligned with FEDUA’s Centre for Social Research and Regional Futures (CSRRF) and has been prompted by the results emerging from industry-­funded research projects, which signal the increased valorisation of quality social research within both government and industry circles. Leveraging this research agenda, the proposed network will deepen the conceptual work that has been initiated on questions related to land use, land use change, tipping points and land use conflict, migration and movement, development and displacement.

One of the first tasks that will undertake is to convene a two-day symposium in early June 2017, Rural neighbours in times of change. Gathering scholars from a range of disciplinary fields, all working within rural areas in Australia and abroad, the notion of rural localities as spaces for collaboration and cohesion, conflict and contest will be explored. The network will focus on the theme of ‘rural neighbours’, with the sub-­‐themes of locality and globalisation; migration and displacement; place and emplacement.

By bringing together scholars who work on these issues as they manifest in relation to diverse global processes (agriculture; mineral extraction; forced migration; natural disasters; colonisation) it is anticipated that the network will generate novel opportunities for FEDUA and CSRRF in terms of industry-­‐engaged research and commercialisation. Rapid structural adjustment, population changes and environmental transformation have catalysed new rural dynamics that have received relatively little attention from governments and researchers in traditional rural governance and studies. The Rural Land Use and Community Research Network seeks to redress this through a focus on migration policy, planning, regulation and community resilience-­‐building.

Network members

Dr Hedda Askland Lecturer, Anthropology School of Humanities and Social Science
Dr Michael Askew Project Director, CSRRF FEDUA Research Unit
Dr Tamara Blakemore Lecturer, Social Work School of Humanities and Social Science
Dr Amanda Howard Senior Lecturer, Social Work School of Humanities and Social Science
Dr Birgitte Romme Larsen Post-Doctoral Fellow The Saxo Institute / Centre for Advanced Migration Studies,
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Dr Zachary Whyte Lecturer Global Refugee Studies, University of Aalborg, Denmark
Dr Michiel Kohne Assistant Professor, Anthropology of Law Wageningen University, Netherlands
Dr Meg Sherval Senior Lecturer School of Environment and Life Sciences
Dr Kevin Sobel-Read Lecturer Newcastle Law School
Dr Sidsel Grimstad Lecturer Newcastle Business School