Shaping rural space in Georgia?
In the time of globalization, one could easily expect the significance of rural spaces to wane in policy, research and daily experiences. Rural spaces around the world are shaped by increasingly industrialized forms of agriculture, ever larger farms, the concentration of market power in the hands of few transnational corporations as well as rural depopulation and an ‘urbanization of the rural’. On the other hand, (themselves transnational) peasant movements promote food sovereignty and (re-)localization, often in a ‘small-is-beautiful’ narrative of environmentally-friendly local agricultural production in rural spaces.
Interestingly, the EU’s image of rural space seems to attempt the bridging of the global and the local. This will be highlighted in this project’s analysis of two Common Agricultural Policy instruments: the LEADER community-led rural development programme as well as the promotion of geographical indications. While geographical indications promote smaller producers of place-based, ideally traditional products it does so for the goal of competitiveness in global markets. LEADER is specifically designed to strengthen the community and ‘heritage’/identity of a rural space, yet does so following EU-designed ‘best practices’ and the (transnational) dissemination of those ideas across rural spaces. Even more strikingly, the EU promotes these instruments beyond its borders, especially in its neighbourhood, complicating the seeming global-local dichotomy even further.
Hence, the project analyses how ‘effectively’ these ideas are externalized, utilizing Lavenex and Schimmelfennig’s (2009) theoretical framework of external governance. Importantly, it contributes a micro-level perspective to the external governance approach that has thus far been missing from analyses of rule selection, adoption and application. Therefore, it analyses rural spaces in Georgia, where both the LEADER approach and geographical indications are promoted by the EU. Further contributing to the development of an external governance perspective, both programmes promote the EU’s idea of rural space in Georgia following seemingly different modes of external governance. Additionally, they do so in a complicated context considering interests of third countries, most importantly Russia, as well as non-state actors involved particularly in LEADER. Consequently, the project casts the net widely for potential implications of LEADER and geographical indications for rural spaces, including possible unintended consequences. Specifically, it analyses various aspects of rural space to gain a more comprehensive picture: land as property; territory, meaning relations of authority over space; frontier as periphery and borderlands; and place, indicating a sense of belonging to spaces.
Keywords: European Union, external governance, rurality, space
Nonetheless, lately both policy makers’ attention and resources have shifted towards this dimension, warranting a closer analysis.
Additionally, as outlined above, the European Union’s vision for rural spaces sits in a curious position between a seeming global-local dichotomy in contesting rurality that reflect a broader debate on the future on rural spaces: competitiveness, modernity, globalization versus tradition and (re-)localization. Beyond this, rural spaces are too often neglected in favour of research on urban spaces. Yet, rural spaces remain to be not only the major sites for food production but also homes for billions of people, therefore making necessary an increased research interest.
Oct 2016 – Aug 2017: University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Sep 2017 – Aug 2018: Université de Genève, Switzerland
Sep 2018 – Feb 2019: The Transatlantic Foundation, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Mar 2019 – Oct 2019: University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Master of Arts in International Security
Double Degree, University of Warwick and University of Konstanz
Master of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration majoring in International Administration and Conflict Management
Double Degree, University of Konstanz and University of Warwick
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration
University of Konstanz
- European Union external relations
- Qualitative methods
Richardson, B. & Gelhaus, L. (2015): Shame on You: Fat Discrimination and the Food Industry, in: Lacuna.
Member of the Critical International and Political Studies (CRIPS) graduate working group at the University of Warwick.