Why bother about
       „rural‟?



Inaugural Professorial Lecture of Frank Rennie
Beautiful
landscapes
also have
people!
Is „rural‟ a
   What do we really
                                   fixed state,
   mean when we
                        ...
“I was never fond of towns, houses, society, or
(it seems) civilisation ….. the sea, islands,
islanders, the island life a...
Where I live
What are                            resident
the labels               educator
of rural                            Being
a...
As a species we            Biotopes and
had 100 million            habitats
years of fine
tuning….
                  It is...
Stereotypes
of rural
place and                     Some are
                              harmless,
rural people
         ...
Economic
development by
itself does not
constitute     GDP as an indicator of development
progress …. has severe limitatio...
Pluriactivity as a survival strategy

                           Pluriactivity as a
Is there a link            response to...
Neil Gunn

                                John Buchan
      Scholar Gipsies

                           A kinship with
  ...
Homo sapiens…. as a physical mass

                                … as a living
                                organism ...
Our
images     The cultural landscape is a mythical
of the     heterogeneous image….
rural
identity

   “Beyond the farmer...
Fabricating
nature
It was the success of the rural economy
     that allowed the urban dream


          “in 123 BC, Rome assumed
          t...
It was the
 commoditisation
 of agriculture
                       The natural environment
 that initially
               ...
Photo by Katy Walters www.geograph.org.uk/photo/527766
There is a case that
rural communities
are inherently more
sustainable than                  A man in
urban ones          ...
The food web
 This level of             at the centre of
connection to              popular
   the rural               awa...
The non-farming component of
 rural areas is almost totally
 lacking a strong political voice

            It is not a que...
The ideas that
becoming native
                             perpetuate
to place, a sort of
                             th...
So what is         An ethnocentric myth frequently
development?       propagated by urbanites is the
                   as...
the possibilities would          Globally, 50% of the
seem to exist for combining      population is under
the convenient ...
Island to
island
education
– in the
Pacific
there is         to focus upon the urban areas as
no               definitive of the politics, culture,
ONE              l...
there are six main reasons why rural areas are
important

As sources of biodiversity

        As a reliable source of food...
"On our way to a loch, two miles from Inveruplan,
Three of us (keepers) read the landscape as
I read a book. They missed n...
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Why bother with rural?

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The importance of rural. UHI inaugural professorial lecture

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Why bother with rural?

  1. 1. Why bother about „rural‟? Inaugural Professorial Lecture of Frank Rennie
  2. 2. Beautiful landscapes also have people!
  3. 3. Is „rural‟ a What do we really fixed state, mean when we or a say the word relational „rural‟? Is it a very geographical narrow, or a point? very broad focus on life? We know it when we see it 2008 marks the tipping point More than 66% between rural and of Earth‟s land urban residents surface is rural
  4. 4. “I was never fond of towns, houses, society, or (it seems) civilisation ….. the sea, islands, islanders, the island life and climate, make and keep me truly happier” RLS
  5. 5. Where I live
  6. 6. What are resident the labels educator of rural Being areas? „rusticated‟ was a environmentalist punishment Community academic crofter activist
  7. 7. As a species we Biotopes and had 100 million habitats years of fine tuning…. It is barely 5,000 years since cities came together What is the Images of status of a cultural rural stereotypes resident?
  8. 8. Stereotypes of rural place and Some are harmless, rural people and some are….. http://tinyurl.com/37qeaw6
  9. 9. Economic development by itself does not constitute GDP as an indicator of development progress …. has severe limitations The basic Urban identity lies entitlements in the overweening of health, concern for the education, primacy of political and political economy liberties are features of Perceptions the natural environment well-being are also socially constructed
  10. 10. Pluriactivity as a survival strategy Pluriactivity as a Is there a link response to to the genetic economic diversity of volatility natural systems? Grapes of The Wrath characterisation of rural life in literature… Sunset Song The creation of mythical rurality
  11. 11. Neil Gunn John Buchan Scholar Gipsies A kinship with nature Walden - Thoreau Rural bliss versus urban materialism? Sustainable Development = economic, social, environmental, and social equity evaluations
  12. 12. Homo sapiens…. as a physical mass … as a living organism … in the ecosystem As a cultured human being …. Interacting with The landscape is the environment ........ sanitized and reconstructed to appear in an image …. valued more highly than .. reality a result of this is the re-invention of the countryside…..
  13. 13. Our images The cultural landscape is a mythical of the heterogeneous image…. rural identity “Beyond the farmers‟ frontier, there is no such thing as countryside. Instead, there is wild, raw nature, a wilderness.” Faith in progress Both kinds of arcadia, the is itself some idyllic as well as the wild kind of religion are landscapes of the urban imagination
  14. 14. Fabricating nature
  15. 15. It was the success of the rural economy that allowed the urban dream “in 123 BC, Rome assumed the responsibility of distributing a monthly ration of corn – free – to every eligible citizen (not including women, children, and slaves of course!” The importance of grain in fuelling urban growth and power should not be underestimated
  16. 16. It was the commoditisation of agriculture The natural environment that initially itself has become enabled regarded as natural capital urbanisation The concept of the foodshed Foodmiles We are entering an age when localism is seen as a modifying Grow your own factor to the debilitating effects of globalism
  17. 17. Photo by Katy Walters www.geograph.org.uk/photo/527766
  18. 18. There is a case that rural communities are inherently more sustainable than A man in urban ones Assynt but We currently face powerful drivers in the form of trans-national agribusiness, and their desire to extend and consolidate their global empires….
  19. 19. The food web This level of at the centre of connection to popular the rural awareness ecosystem has been The debate on GM foods is progressively a striking example of this obscured for most cosmopolitans The Precautionary Principle
  20. 20. The non-farming component of rural areas is almost totally lacking a strong political voice It is not a question of „development versus conservation‟ or that „development‟ equals „progress‟ Conservation IS a form of Memes relating to rurality… development We need to become better ecological accountants
  21. 21. The ideas that becoming native perpetuate to place, a sort of themselves will „place-based- survive, those that learning‟ don‟t will not, regardless of how The really BIG idea intrinsically „good‟ or for the 21st century „moral‟ these ideas is the management might be of sustainable development that is promote an appropriate relevant to localized balance between the human communities individual ego and the good of the wider community
  22. 22. So what is An ethnocentric myth frequently development? propagated by urbanites is the assumption that the urban life style is "at the centre of things" If rurality is simply the arrogant defined as distance from assumption that the urban, how does that urban difference understanding alter with inevitably means distance-shrinking „better‟ rather than technologies that allow simply alternative me to video-conference to a meeting 1000 miles away ?
  23. 23. the possibilities would Globally, 50% of the seem to exist for combining population is under the convenient hyper- 25 years of age connectivity of urban areas with the high quality digeratti aspects of rural lifestyles. Homo zappiens In the last 60 seconds, 1000 Is it possible that rural areas will mobile phones come to be defined by the have been sold opportunities and entitlements of the rural space rather than simply by the distance from centres of dense population?
  24. 24. Island to island education – in the Pacific
  25. 25. there is to focus upon the urban areas as no definitive of the politics, culture, ONE landscape, or economy of a rural country is self-evidently limiting type, and erroneous no single image of it is the non-urban areas of a rurality country that characterize and differentiate the nation-state or region from the heterogeneous similarity of humanity that the urban zones exemplify
  26. 26. there are six main reasons why rural areas are important As sources of biodiversity As a reliable source of food supply As vital sources of natural resources and capital As important localities of cultural reserves As resources for human recreational activities As new work spaces for the digital, online age – with the benefits of space and place.
  27. 27. "On our way to a loch, two miles from Inveruplan, Three of us (keepers) read the landscape as I read a book. They missed no word of it: Fox-hole, strange weed, blue berry, ice-scrape, deer's hoof- print. It was their back yard, and fresh as the garden in Eden (Striped rock 'like a Belted Galloway'). They saw what I Saw, and more, and its meaning. They spoke like a native The language they walked in. I envied them, naturally....“ from Norman MacCaig‟s poem - Among scholars

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