We seek to bridge the rural-urban divide in political ecology (and geography more broadly), by bringing together scholars working in a variety of settings on issues that challenge our understandings of what it means to be “urban” or “rural.” Recent work on the political ecology of exurbia has begun to examine the gap between rural and urban geographies, but we ask: By calling for a political ecology of exurbia, are we in some ways simply producing yet another division, rather than reconsidering what the rural/urban divide means?
We welcome papers which examine what it means to produce urban or rural political ecology at a time in which both urban and rural places are facing increasingly diverse transformations, including rapid urbanization, deindustralization, increasing social and ecological impacts due to amenity migration, and the deconcentration of traditional cities into “edge cities” and vast fringe areas of mixed character. In this session we seek to initiate a conversation that moves beyond a focus on the rural-urban fringe as a location and toward examining the diverse patterns and processes that make the divisions between the urban and the rural increasingly murky.
Papers in this session might examine issues such as: rural and urban identities along the rural-urban edge; urbanization in-situ; diverse rural-urban networks and linkages; and the movement of traditionally “rural” activities such as agriculture into the city. Although these processes are not all physically located at the urban-rural edge, they are united as instances wherein our idealized conceptualizations of urban and rural meet and come into tension with the reality of places and processes that are increasingly “in between.”