The Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) of Lyon and the Collectif Ville Campagne, a non-profit organization under the Law of 1901, grouping together the actors of local and regional welcoming policies, are organizing a research conference. The aim is to encourage interaction with other actors in this field, and thus to promote the creation of research programmes around issues pertaining to welcoming and settling in.
In France, as in many other European countries, migration towards rural areas is active and multifaceted. It is the result of a complex combination of phenomena.
But could it not be interpreted above all as the signal of a paradoxical process of, on the one hand, integration into a globalized system and, on the other, simultaneous research which, if not an alternative, at least signals otherness manifested through spatial behaviour?
Here is what we mean. The imprint of economic geography, based on “competitiveness through knowledge” (to quote Christian Saint-Etienne), is spatially embedded, through metropolization. The world of economic globalization, which has freed itself of the constraints of distance, has not abolished the territory. But it tends to favour certain nodes. This is the idea of “the networked metropolitan economy” described by Pierre Veltz.
But in parallel with this extremely powerful logic, which to a large extent determines behaviours, inhabitants oppose, appose and superpose differing strategies and behaviours. Residential strategies, feelings of belonging, etc. What one could call “the geography of lifestyles”.
The working hypothesis would thus be that there is a “friction” between this economic geography and the geography of lifestyles. From this friction stem not only frustrations and tensions (the different forms of “struggle for places”, as Michel Lussault put it), but also “renewal”.
Should we not shift the paradigm to understand this link between mobility and territory, and to analyze the terms human establishment and living environment? Moreover, does this not relate to new ecological, social and environmental responsibilities that public policies need to address?
The themes of the call for papers
Apart from the general research questions which, to feed and illustrate the debate, could be the subject of several papers, this call proposes six main themes.
1) Re-examining knowledge on “lifestyles in rural areas”
“Everyone in Chichery, myself included, will tell you that here life is good, calm and easy, and the air fresh, but that, indeed, we don’t all know one another as we did in the past, and we don’t really understand what’s going on. There are too many new people and too many who leave or simply pass through. People say this without regret, without emotion, as if we’d entered a state of general indifference about the world around us”, Pascal Dibie (2006) Le village métamorphosé, Plon, Collection “Terres humaines”.
This citation from ethnologist Pascal Dibie raises the question of “why”? Behind the “we don’t really understand what’s going on” there’s the question of why does one live in a rural area? Is it a matter of hedonism (“life is calm and easy, and the air fresh”)? Is it a good compromise in an individualistic society and “in a state of general indifference about the world around us”? Or, on the contrary, are rural areas “incubators” of something latent? Places where, more or less subconsciously, the inhabitants were trying to invent a new type of relationship to others, “at a large distance”.
Pascal Dibie’s citation is also situated. Chichery, a village in the Yonne département, is probably typical of many cases in France, but it does not sum them all up. The second question that this citation begs is of course “what”? What is the same and what is different?
The questions “where” and “why” have few answers today. The economic approach prevails in explanations of rural dynamics: living in a village is a matter either of property prices, or of residential appeal related to amenities, or of productive attractiveness linked to the promotion of “specific assets”.
The idea is for this conference to be an opportunity to present the results of research on the conditions and ways in which this rural space is inhabited, lived, appropriated and produced by those who live there.
The selected papers could examine what it is that structures attachment to rural areas. They might seek to understand how this attachment is formed and structures (and is structured by) social relations. In particular, is there an appearance of new types of structures providing assistance?
They could also analyze what the inter-mixing of populations in territories brings about, in terms of economic and social innovations, in terms of symbolic construction of certain practices or certain portions of the space, and in terms of the adaptation of mechanisms of governance, re-examining democratic processes, etc.
They could examine how mobilities influence territorial practices and impact on temporalities, and how mobility and temporality can be associated in territorial practices.
The papers in this category could also analyze life stories in territories characterized by the arrival of new populations.
2) Furthering the debate on “territoriality and inter-territoriality”
“French society no longer lives in the territories that it has recognized, adopted and promoted, but between them, through them” […] “Any legal, political and institutional system lags behind the society that generates it”! Martin Vannier in Le Pouvoir des territoires – Editions Anthropos 2008.
Martin Vanier’s thesis is stimulating and provoking. He argues that the institutional production of territories, which has literally “exploded” in the past decades, has been overtaken, transgressed by our habits. At a push, we could even say that nowadays we are heading for the chimera of “producing territories” for individuals who have definitively opted for nomadism, the fragmentation of territories, and the multiplicity and inconsistency of belonging. “The growing proportion of what is temporary, ephemeral, determines a lighter relationship to space, and integrates more lability in the construction of spatial entities, to the detriment of territorial forms that imply more lasting sedimentation”, writes Laurent Cailly in Vanier Territoires, territorialité, territorialisation – controverses et perspectives Presses universitaires de Rennes 2007
This second theme of the call for papers is designed to draw papers that explore the relationship between “territoriality – inter-territoriality and welcoming”, in a “dialogical” way:
1) Do migrations and welcoming policies in rural areas not partially belie the “inter-territoriality” thesis?
Should we not see a part of the movement of “return” to the countryside as the assertion of an anchorage, the quest for geographic proximity, the citizen’s wish to faire société (to make or do society)? And should we not conclude that the welcoming policies are policies of a strong affirmation of instituted territories (regions, countries, inter-urban)? In this respect, see the experiences of the Foires established in the rural areas around Limoges, the summer schools of Clermont-Ferrand, and so on.
2) Or, on the contrary, is there not co-existence, cohabitation, even enrichment of an anchored territoriality and a mobile one in newcomers to rural areas?
How do newcomers experience their inter-territoriality? How do they see their “urban roots”? How do they see their place in the territories that welcome them? Is moving to the countryside considered as a stage in a life trajectory, or as a choice that only unexpected events can change? Should we distinguish between different routes for this choice, between those who live in the countryside but work in the city, and those who aspire to both live and work in the countryside?
3) Welcome in rural areas: “struggle for places” or reconstruction of places
Michel Lussault argues that the “struggle for places” has replaced the “struggle of the classes”. The realization of personal trajectories is becoming a crucial objective for everyone. This realization is carried out, expressed and manifested in individuals’ quest for what they consider to be the best places to which they can aspire”, M. Lussault, in De la Lutte des classes à la lutte des Places. Grasset 2009.
The arrival of new populations in rural areas is de facto often deciphered in terms of this issue of “places”:
- For some, the increase in the rural population is the reflection of an urban relegation. The vanquished in the “struggle for places” move to the countryside, the only space they can afford. And it is naturally a space that is deprived in terms of services and urban amenities: no public transport, few public services, etc. (see the analyses of Donzelot, Ascher, etc.)
- For others (who may actually be the same ones), the increase in rural populations is related to a take-up of the environmental and landscape amenities of these territories by the wealthier classes. Rural territories host gated communities of “connected” urbanites who find in this space the best context for exclusive appropriation (see analyses on the NIMBY and BANANA phenomena).
- But this “struggle for places” concept also has another modality, one that evokes phenomena of the “exclusion” of the “natives” faced with the “intrusion” of the newcomers. This generates, for example, the (real or imaginary) worries about “tension” on the land and property market (“our young people can’t afford housing anymore!”), and about the development of a foreign economy (“the Dutch buy everything in Holland and short-circuit the local economy!”).
Faced with these well-known standpoints, this third theme calls for papers around several questions:
- How do policies to promote “welcoming” contribute to regulating these “conflicts of places”? How do they convey new norms?
- Should welcoming policies not be seen as a means, not only to “make place” but also to “make places”? In other words, to restructure and revive a local system of players?
Studies on the evaluation of welcoming policies could be presented here.
4) The peri-urban: paradox or synthesis?
In the prevailing discourse of local councillors, is peri-urbanization not becoming the worst evil, a form of “urban incontinence” that must be fought? It is accused of being responsible for eating away at agricultural land and pushing up land prices. Soulless housing developments are said to be home to social demobilization, the destruction of neighbourhood solidarity and a refusal of social mixing. At the same time, peri-urbanization is claimed to require an inflationary demand for costly urban services in relatively sparsely inhabited areas. It is said to be the cause of excessive debt by working-class households taken in by the promises of property developers and financiers, and not to be sustainable because based on the use of private cars. The litany of criticisms is known, yet remains a normative discourse that is also consistently contradicted by certain facts (starting with the acknowledged attractiveness of these spaces).
Situated close to both urban and rural territories, peri-urban spaces are the most attractive and dynamic in a territory. This is where young households and the working classes choose to set up home as soon as they have the means to do so, and sometimes even before that, at the cost of a risky bet on the future. Indeed, this space is strongly desired by those who occupy it! Seeing the peri-urban space (without being its champion) as a space “élu avec les pieds”, wanted, attractive, dynamic and growing, raises new questions and prompts new investigations.
The papers selected for this fourth theme could adopt the following approaches:
- First, how is the representation of the peri-urban space constructed? What explains the divide between a negative political discourse and a growing reality? Should the following type of interpretation be given credit: a gap between, on the one hand, the wishes of the (urban and rural) elite for a compact town and a preserved countryside and, on the other, the lifestyle desired by the middle and working classes (mostly young people and young families).
- How does the peri-urban space function? May it not be considered either as an ecotone, or as a new form of centrality? A centrality based not on proximity but on accessibility? Not on conurbation but on the “distancing” and even considerable distancing. Does the success of peri-urbanization not stem from the fact that it is a place of balance? A spatial answer to the contradictory aspiration of everyone to freedom – the price of which is solitude – and sociability – the price of which is submission to the collective norm –? Peri-urbanization would then be the barycentre of our contradictions: a “weighted centrality”, the place with the lowest cost in terms of solitude-submission or the best gain in freedom-sociability. Can we depart from the “prevailing” critique of the individual house, seen as a desertion of the social and civic world?
- In terms of functioning and representation, peri-urban spaces are widely heterogeneous, especially with regard to this welcoming dynamic. In this respect, can we draw up typologies that decipher the social and spatial differences of these territories?
5) Observing innovations for foresight
Welcoming new populations is both a sign and a source of innovation in rural areas. In the cultural, social and economic fields, with regard to services, the relationship to space, or the qualification of sustainable development, newcomers – whether they “work” or not – can shift lines or prompt established players to evolve and to innovate.
Tomorrow’s society is invented in these territories which are “activated” by encounters between established players and newcomers.
Analyzing these innovations means opening the way to a “foresight of the present”. Following E. Heurgon, we use this term for foresight focused on “emergent facts”, on “weak signals” and even on the production of original and unexpected ideas (serendipity, or the art of finding what one was not looking for). Thus, foresight of the present seeks less to build plausible scenarios for the future than to exploit “in situ” the wealth of original ideas on which the future may be based. It is a foresight “[…] that is designed to be ongoing and interactive, using public debate to stimulate a process of collective understanding, capable of experimenting with new configurations and of proposing useful principles for action”, Heurgon, E. and Landrieu, J. (2003) in Des “nous” et des “je” qui inventent la cité, Editions de l’aube.
Through this fifth research theme we call for papers which contribute towards answering the following questions:
- Can we imagine that a platform of interaction could provide us with facts on these innovations? What do these “small changes” consist of? Can we have a “broader” knowledge of these innovations, especially so that they can be duplicated and spread? What lessons can be learned with regard to culture and to sustainable development?
- What are the determinants of these innovations? Are host territories “innovative environments” and, if so, on what conditions?
- Host territories see populations with different cultural representations confront one another. How do these encounters take place? Are we witnessing new “cultural partitioning” or, on the contrary, the constitution of something entirely new?
- But rural territories are also the subjects and places of prospective analysis, which are often active but little known. How is the question of welcome treated in this regard? What recommendations and actions does this type of approach induce?
6) Territorial engineering and welcoming policies
Starting from the analysis of Lascoumes and Le Galès (in L’action publique saisie par les instruments, Presse de Science-Po, 2004) on the instruments of public action, we can consider “territorial engineering” as an institution. Territorial engineering is not only a technical tool to implement a policy; it is an organization responsible for facilitating coordination and, above all, a “system of norms” which produces an order, which structures, organizes and produces public action.
Through the latter theme, the idea is to bring together papers that examine how the question of welcoming new populations “disrupts” (or not) the “territorial engineering” institution, with regard to:
- its organization, the logics of the players who intervene in this respect;
- the nature of interventions, the working methods and systems;
- the culture of the territorial project;
- the geographical organization of this engineering, with reference to the three models: “the geography of equality, the geography of priority, and the geography of will” (cf. Piveteau “Ingénierie territoriale, pour un parti pris géographique”, ENS Lyon 2010);
- the content of the interventions. As André Micoud put it, “specialists of inhabited spaces, that is, architects, urban planners and landscapers, need to analyze what the forms and statuses of the ‘public spaces’ to imagine in these new countrysides might be” (Micoud, A. “Pourquoi les architectes dans les campagnes”, 2010).
Submittal of proposals (1 page abstract): 31 August
The abstract includes the title, authors with email address, a presentation of 3 to 4000 signs and a short bibliography.
Acceptance of papers: 25 September
Submittal of final papers: 15 November
Languages during the conference:
English, French (simultaneous translations)
Address for sending papers:
By email only (.pdf): accueil-mobilités@ens-lyon.fr
Contact: email@example.com or Collectif Ville Campagne (33)5 55 70 47 00
Paul Arnould (ENS-Lyon), Laurence Barthe (Université Toulouse Le Mirail) Emmanuelle Bonerandi † (ENS Lyon), Françoise Cognard (Université de Clermont-Ferrand), Claire Delfosse (Université Lyon II), Samuel Depraz (Université Lyon III), Josée de Félice (Collectif ville campagne), Bertrand Hervieu (Ministère de l’agriculture), Valérie Jousseaume (Université de Nantes), Sylvie Lardon (INRA & Agroparistech), André Micoud (Collectif ville-campagne), Olivier Mora (INRA), Bernard Pecqueur (Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble), Christian Pihet (Université d’Angers), Yannick Saincébé (AgroSup Dijon), Vincent Piveteau (Collectif ville-campagne), Frédéric Richard (Université de Limoges), André Torre (INRA),
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