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Call for papers/Appel de communications : Gender, Rurality, Transformation

Source: Rural Women Making Change, University of Guelph.
Gender, Rurality, Transformation: A conference on gender relations and the changing dynamics of Canadian rural life. University of Guelph, May 13-14 2010. Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Rural life in Canada has always been experienced at the intersections of individual and collective ingenuity and determination, of the vagaries of climate and constraints of the physical environment, and of economic and political processes often put into action far away. Contrary to a common view that rural places and the people who live there are in some sense timeless and static, they have always been – have had to be – dynamic and adaptable. And despite claims that rural places contain fewer people and are therefore far less important than urban centres, what goes on in rural regions has profound consequences for urban and rural populations in terms of their food, water, and air quality; as well as for broader national concerns around human and animal rights, land and resource use, and the environment. Ongoing societal and environmental changes continue to have profound implications for gender relations in rural areas, and gender relations themselves contribute to how change is implemented and experienced here and elsewhere. How gender relations shift and with what consequences will vary in different rural regions depending on the cultural, economic, political social and environmental factors at play and the relationship of those regions to urban centres nearby and far away.

Rural areas are as enmeshed in the global economy as anywhere else. Sometimes through its powerful presence and sometimes because it has turned away from a particular place, the effects of the global economy are experienced in diverse ways in rural places. Family farms experience serious debt crisis and large-scale farming increases. Some natural resources decline or become inaccessible, while others take on new value. Old rural manufacturing regions are eclipsed by those closer to transportation routes and previously important economic regions losing ground in the global economy reposition themselves by marketing tourism and leisure pursuits within their communities. Livelihood maintenance increasingly requires great personal mobility. Economic and political change affects a broad range of policies and rural economic development. All of these processes of change have gendered implications. They also take place in a broader national and international context where dominant discourses are produced and promulgated largely with urban places in mind, which then bump up against and in the process redefine historically produced ideas and practices of rurality.

Amidst all of this change rural social relations are being reshaped. Migrants bring their labour, and sometimes their families, to rural communities. Young people find expanded opportunities elsewhere and leave. Urbanites and retirees seek out new and at times cheaper places to raise families and experience a different lifestyle. All of these and many other transformations shift local demographics in terms of class, age, ethnicity, religion, education, and race. In a context where the sexual division of labour continues to be critical to survival, gender relations become a flashpoint for struggles over how change is negotiated, resisted, accommodated and embraced.

Developments in scholarship pertaining to gender and to rural places allow scholars to bring these issues into focus in new ways. Older theoretical constructs, such as power and empowerment, commodity production, social reproduction, division of labour, patriarchy, and labour market, are complemented by new ones like difference, diversity, representation, mobility, and identity. This conference aims to address this broad range of rural gender issues through multiple disciplinary and theoretical lenses.

We welcome abstracts for conference papers
, workshops or posters that speak to how gender relations are being transformed and are transforming rural communities. Abstracts must be no more than 150 words and should be sent to by February 1 2010.



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