RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019

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25 Rural to where? Rural young people’s geographies in mobility, learning, trajectories and hopefulness (1): Holding the rural together?
Affiliation Geographies of Children, Youth and Families Research Group
Developing Areas Research Group
Convenor(s) Tracey Skelton (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Jessica Clendenning (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Chair(s) Jessica Clendenning (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Timetable Wednesday 28 August 2019, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room Sherfield/SALC Building, Room 7
Session abstract Rural young people, compared to their urban counterparts, are relatively understudied or misunderstood in academic discourse and policy debates (Panelli et al. 2007; Jeffrey 2008; Punch 2015). These trends may be shifting as major development organisations focus on ‘youth’, and some examine rural development, youth and gender dynamics more closely (e.g., CTA and IFAD 2014; UNESCO 2016; UN Women 2017; FAO 2018). This session builds upon both ‘troubled’ and ‘hopeful’ foci in policy and academic studies on rural youth transitions and mobility (e.g., Chant and Jones 2005; Crivello 2010; Woronov 2016; Chea and Huijsmans 2018) to understand rural young people’s educational pathways for navigating opportunities, challenges and precarity. The session examines details about how these pathways affect localized and informal learning (e.g., Katz 2004), and the choices and alternatives young people have in education, training, and making a living.

This session explores how rural youth use and access various forms of mobility, education or training (e.g. vocational, technical, formal) to improve their skills for work, self-employment, further migration, etc., and the outcomes or consequences of such investments. Questions for analysis may include:
◾What are rural young people’s pathways for education and training, and where do they lead?
◾What are the formal or informal skills rural young people acquire from these pathways; how are they used in their everyday lives to find work?
◾What are the effects of these investments in mobility, education and training on their families, natal villages, land uses and forests?
◾How does ‘home place’, along with other social factors such as gender, ethnicity and age, affect their in/ability to become mobile, access education or employment resources?
◾What are the spatialities of where schools/training centres are based, subject areas, and types of student populations (e.g., vocational or tertiary; rural or urban)? What is learned, gained and un/successful?
◾How do differing types of migration (distance, time, type of work) affect connections to families, villages, labour and knowledge in natal land?
Linked Sessions Rural to where? Rural young people’s geographies in mobility, learning, trajectories and hopefulness (2): Rural (re)connections, resilience and renewal?
Rural to where? Rural young people’s geographies in mobility, learning, trajectories and hopefulness (3): From rural to where?
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2019@rgs.org
Youthful rural geographies of hope/trouble
Tracey Skelton (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Rural young people, compared to their urban counterparts, are relatively understudied or misunderstood in academic discourse, policy debates and planning (Panelli et al. 2007; Jeffrey 2008; Punch 2015). These trends may be shifting as major development organisations focus on ‘youth’, and some examine rural development, youth and gender dynamics more closely (e.g., CTA and IFAD 2014; UNESCO 2016; UN Women 2017; FAO 2018). The presentations selected for this session build upon both ‘troubled’ and ‘hopeful’ foci in policy and academic studies on rural youth transitions and mobility (e.g., Chant and Jones 2005; Crivello 2010; Woronov 2016; Chea and Huijsmans 2018) to understand rural young people’s educational pathways for navigating opportunities, challenges and precarity. The presentations examine details about how these pathways affect localised and informal learning (e.g., Katz 2004), and the choices and alternatives young people have in education, training, and making a living. This opening presentation provides a contextual overview of the ways in which rural youth are differentially situated in varying geographical locales and yet share common socio-spatial geographies of hope and/or trouble. Drawing upon case study material this introductory presentation will provide examples of the ways in which rural youth work to achieve their aspirations to fulfil their own (and their families’) desires. Often this means trying to chart new paths which avoid the troubles and experiences of previous generations, but which, is a difficult and precarious path in and of itself.
Rural youth – Politics of recognition and redistribution
Susanna Areschoug (Stockholm University, Sweden)
A growing body of work, interested in youth, citizenship and education, is bringing analytic attention to the role of place in young people’s lives (Kåks, 2007; Svensson, 2006, 2017; Vallström, 2011). Spatial hierarchies render ‘the rural’ and its inhabitants peripheral and, while such marginalization results in complex experiences of citizenship, the emplacement of (rural) youth has not always been put in connection with their societal (dis)engagements. The recent orientation towards rurality within Swedish youth studies highlights important questions of youth’s experiences, opportunities and identity work in places continuously marked as being in the geographic, economic and moral periphery. But, a (re)reading of this scholarship shows that a divided, and in some cases polarized, empirical and analytical focus results in rather different conclusions – and different suggested remedies – regarding geographic inequality. In this paper, the aim is to track the theoretical and political imperatives that underline current research about Swedish rural youth, to highlight potential pitfalls and to make suggestions for future research. The focus is primarily on debates within a Swedish setting, but relevant international scholarship will also be discussed. The main arguments are that fundamental questions regarding politics of redistribution (Fraser & Honneth, 2003), as well as the historic contingency of subject formation (Brown, 2006), risk being foreshadowed by a repeated insistence on the recognition of (rural) identity and experience as a remedy for justice. As this critical review aims to show, in our contemporary moment of advanced and global capitalism, claims of acknowledgement based on (rural) identity are, for too many, not an affordance.
Engaging youth in regional Australia: Stakeholders’ views
Candice Boyd (The University of Melbourne, Australia)
Youth outmigration has been a serious dilemma for regional Australian communities for over a decade with approximately 50% of the young people in the 15-21-year age group leaving their home areas (Argent & Walmsley, 2008; Coffey et al., 2018). The reasons for youth outmigration are complex. Contextual factors such as access to higher education and more diverse employment options are relevant, but so are symbolic factors such as the lure of urban lifestyles that are seen to embody youth culture, as well as affective factors related to the lived experiences of young people (Alston, 2004; Farrugia, 2016; Stratford, 2015). However, in view of an increasingly mobile world, regional communities now realise that simply stemming the flow of outmigration is not the solution. Return migration of educated and experienced young people can be of great benefit to regional areas. Thus, the need to keep existing young people engaged in their communities so as to increase the likelihood of their return, staying engaged with young people while they are away, and re-engaging with young people who do return (for different durations) are all part of a holistic youth engagement strategy (ACYS, 2015). This paper will present findings from the first year of a three-year project examining youth engagement strategies in regional areas of Australia where investment is increasing at the same time that youth populations are in decline. Focussing on the views of key stakeholders, the paper will explore the extent, goals and priorities, and strengths and weaknesses of current approaches.
WITHDRAWN - Young Palestinians’ informal, everyday and cultural responses to housing demolitions: rural youth agency for sustainable development?
Matt Baillie Smith (Northumbria University, UK)
Rachel Clarke (Northumbria University, UK)
Mark Griffiths (Northumbria University, UK)
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Discussant
Tracey Skelton (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Discussant