Despite what ongoing urbanisation processes might suggest, rural areas have not become depleted of people. In fact, more people now live in rural places than ever before (Li 2014: 3). Yet in popular narratives of modernisation, ‘the village’ and its associated ruralness have come to represent backwardness; a place where people do not wish to be (Li 2010). In this sense, the village connotes political marginalization, economic abandonment, and reduced social cohesion. At the same time, the idea of the village evokes nostalgic images, where life has not yet been corrupted by capitalism and mindless consumption (Herzfeld 1991). These two paradoxical myths suggest stasis, or worse, demise, obscuring the dynamics of contemporary rural life.

Anthropologists have long been associated with the village, as the place pur sang for ethnographic research (Gupta and Ferguson 1997), dispelling these myths of stasis and demise. However, under pressure of decolonization and rapid urbanisation there has been a remarkable shift in anthropology over the past few decades. The village as primary field site has increasingly been exchanged for urban, institutional or digital sites of ethnographic research. This raises the question: has ‘the village’ lost its relevance to anthropology? If not, what can be gained from ongoing engagement with village life?

The upcoming issue of Etnofoor seeks to explore these questions. For example, how does ‘the village’ relate to populist movements in Europe and the United States, supposedly driven by the political mobilization of the countryside against ‘urban elites’ (e.g. Cramer 2016; Hochschild 2016)? What is the role of local communities in the procurement of food, energy, and minerals in this era of accelerated production? Can villages, and their small-scale nature, provide examples of how to mitigate the negative effects of global capitalism, also in relation to the Anthropocene? How does the production of village folklore and heritage relate to hegemonic notions of belonging such as nationalism or ethnic identities (Herzfeld 2014)? And finally, what are the specific methodological considerations regarding the nature of ‘the village’ as a site of field research?

Etnofoor invites authors that engage with these, or related, issues, either in the form of an ethnographic case study or from a methodological, theoretical or more practical perspective, to submit an abstract of no more than 200 words to editors@etnofoor.nl before March 15, 2019. The deadline for authors of accepted abstracts to submit their full papers is July 1, 2019.

 

References

Cramer, Katherine Jean

2016   Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Herzfeld, Michael

2014     Intangible Delicacies: Production and Embarrassment in International Settings. Ethnologies36(1–2): 47-62.

1991    A Place in History: Social and Monumental Time in a Cretan Town. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Hochschild, Arlie Russell

2016    Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. New York: New Press.

Li, Tania Murray

2014    Land’s End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

2010    To Make Live or Let Die? Rural Dispossession and the Protection of Surplus Populations. Antipode 41: 66–93.