HomeFields of possibilities

HomeFields of possibilities

Fields of possibilities

Les champs des possibles

Social, political and existential experiments in rural areas

Expérimentations sociales, politiques et existentielles en milieu rural

*  *  *

Published on Tuesday, September 20, 2022


The objective of these two days of conference is to delve into different forms of experimentation in rural areas, in various geographical contexts as well as on multiple spatio-temporal scales, in order to grasp the socio-political and ecological stakes of these initiatives who aim to reappropriate territories and lands subject to the grip of globalized capitalism.


Organized by the research team LAA-UMR LAVUE 7218 CNRS


The Earth is in a crisis of destruction and devastation, which is an ecological, social and civilization crisis, that is to say of the living conditions. In this context, experiences of resistance and re-existence are rising up against the territorial and cultural exploitations and dispossessions of the neoliberal capitalism. These include not only political struggles for agrarian reform, for access to land and for the protection of the Earth, but also for the recognition and defense of other ways of life and other relationships to all living beings. These movements that support different ways of existing, building worlds and knowledge are at the same time movements that claim the rights of nature and the safeguarding of all living beings.  

Defecting from urban modes of living, moving to the countryside in a gesture of "active withdrawal": attempts at community living in rural areas are certainly not new, but the context has changed, from the birth of a political ecology in the 1970s to a climatic emergency that can border on fatalism and “collapsism”. The serious ecological upheavals that affect the Earth and its inhabitants lead many individuals and groups, in the Global North as in the Global South, to update their political gestures. City dwellers who aspire to a redefinition of their geographical and existential territories are trying to escape not so much from the city itself but rather from the transformations to which they are subjected in the current economic and productivity-focused system (forms of acceleration, saturation, unsustainable rhythms); at the same time, rural populations are developing strategies to remain or return to these territories and/or are engaging in local experimentation in order to overcome the existing constraints and difficulties. These attempts go beyond the rural/urban dichotomy and reinforce the porosities between these different realities. Highly political experiments (of which the ZAD of Notre Dame des Landes is an emblematic example) stand alongside smaller, more "discreet" experiments in collective living that fall within the scope of everyday commitments (and not necessarily of open struggles) and the rediscovery of skills related to working the land and caring for all living beings. These eco-territorial and existential claims are not always overtly militant; in many cases, they take the form of everyday practices, a priori more ordinary but still political, and which can also have a transformative impact (including some forms of sharing, mutual aid and cooperation). 

These experiences can also initiate and lead to projects bringing additional dimensions to the inhabited sites: food self-sufficiency, artistic and cultural projects (organization of residencies, festivals, creation of third places or collectives), pedagogical and participative actions, intended both for the inhabitants and for potential new residents and tourists. The "escape" from the metropolis is an aspiration much more complex than a simple geographical translation of the existence. These “neo-rurals” initiatives sometimes cross paths with the living conditions of "those who remain", and can lead to new cooperative ways of life but also lead to failures, forms of disenchantment and conflicts. The question of rural areas and areas excluded from massive urbanization processes is often linked to the question of demographic and social transition and, more particularly, to the significant phenomena of demographic decline and aging of the population in these territories. In the European context, several inland, peripheral and remote areas in relation to major metropolitan centers are now questioning the strategies, policies and projects that can reverse the negative demographic trend that has become chronic in some contexts (for example, the aree interne in Italy, the French diagonale du vide or La España vaciada in Spain). If, from a quantitative point of view, depopulation is identified exclusively as the decrease in the number of officially registered residents in a municipality, from a qualitative point of view this phenomenon produces more complex consequences on the different ways of life that coexist in a given context. Fixed and temporary residents, commuter flows at different temporal and spatial scales, but also tourists and visitors coexist in the territory and transform it. In recent years, in light of a renewed interest in rural areas, sometimes biased by a stereotyped and trivialized image of "country life", a series of experiences that position repopulation - temporary or not – as the main focus, have found their place in these contexts. Although the majority of these experiments are still in the early phases, we can observe various forms : the 1 euro house project, projects for smart-workers or political refugees, but also the rise of artistic or research residences. What impact do they have on the existing social and spatial fabric and how can different ways of living in rural areas coexist on the same territory?

The objective is to delve into these differents forms of experimentation in various geographical contexts as well as on multiple spatio-temporal scales, in order to grasp the socio-political and ecological stakes of these initiatives who aim to reappropriate territories and lands subject to the grip of globalized capitalism.

This conference may therefore be able to open up (in a non-exhaustive way) several lines of thought:

  1. Modalities of repopulation and issues of territorial promotion: in contexts of demographic crisis, social experiments are often linked to issues of repopulation and revitalization. To what extent do they offer answers to these problems? How do they combine or overlap with actions to promote the territory? What is the long-term impact of these actions?
  2.  The "return to the land": what kind of "return" is it? What kind of encounters occur between different practices and ideas around the land as a living and productivity-focused environment? What are the gaps between dynamics driven by the concept of a "return to the land", as a source of ecological commitment or as a quest for self-sufficiency, and the realities of the existing political, social and productive fabric? What are the forms of disillusionment, of failure, possibly produced by these attempts?     
  3. Movements of reappropriation of land and territories in the face of capitalist dispossession : how can we interrogate and interpret practices that aspire to become laboratories of social, environmental and political transformation, by working towards updating alternative systems of production, consumption, health and education? How can an environmental ecology be combined with a relational ecology? In Latin America, for example, we speak of struggles for the territory rather than struggles for the land. Territory is conceived as an interconnected and interdependent totality, and is understood as a political concept centered on the notion of Buen Vivir and related to those of autonomy, dignity, diversity, and sovereignty.
  4. Land and Earth: in a context of crisis and environmental emergency, how can these various forms of experimentation underway contribute to the production of new knowledge about the living beings, about the links between humans and non-humans, about strategies for safeguarding the earth's environment? By whom and through what modalities are they carried out?

Practical information

The conference will be held on March 23rd and 24th, 2023 in the conference room of the Ardennes site of École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris La Villette - 23 rue des Ardennes - 75019 Paris The languages of expression will be French and English. A selection of papers will be considered for publication. The conference will be held in person only.

Terms of submission

Proposals, in English or French (and in .doc, .docx or .odt format) should include a title, a 300-word abstract specifying the chosen thematic position, a short critical bibliography and a bio-bibliographic note of about 10 lines (including the name, institutional affiliation and e-mail address of the author).They must be sent by e-mail to colloques.laa@gmail.com

by November 30, 2022.

The decision of the scientific committee will be communicated on December 16, 2022.

Scientific Committee

The scientific and organizational committee is provided by the LAA-UMR LAVUE :

  • Manola Antonioli,
  • Alessia De Biase,
  • Victorine Dréau (also, National University of Colombia-Medellin),
  • Sara Escudero Rubio,
  • Valérie Jouve,
  • Mélanie Richer, Rémi Simon,
  • Valeria Volpe (also IUAV-Venice),
  • Piero Zanini and Thibaut Téranian (EHESS).

Bibliographic references

Acosta A., El Buen Vivir–Sumak Kawsay, una oportunidad para imaginar otros mundos, Barcelone, Icaria, 2013.

Acosta A., Demaria F., Escobar A. et alii, Pluriverse. A Post-Developement Dictionary, New Delhi, Tulika Books/Columbia University Press, 2019.

Balaud L. et Chopot A., Nous ne sommes pas seuls. Politique des soulèvements terrestres, Paris, Seuil, 2021.

Charbonnier P., Abondance et liberté. Une histoire environnementale des idées politiques, Paris, La Découverte, 2020.

Charbonnier P., Culture écologique, Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 2022.

Collectif Mauvaise Troupe, Constellations. Trajectoires révolutionnaires du jeune XXIe siècle, Paris, L’Éclat, 2016;

Conseil Nocturne, Habiter contre la métropole, Paris, Divergences, 2019.

Coquard B., Ceux qui restent, Paris, La découverte, 2019.

Escobar A., Sentir-penser avec la Terre, Paris, Seuil, 2018.

Latour B., Où atterrir ?, Paris, La Découverte, 2017.

Lindgaard J. (dir.), Éloge des mauvaises herbes. Ce que nous devons à la ZAD, Paris, Les Liens qui libèrent, 2018.

Magnaghi A., Le projet local, Liège, Mardaga,  2003.

Morizot B., Manières d’être vivant, Arles, Actes Sud, 2020.

Noulhianne X., Le ménage des champs. Chronique d’un éleveur au XXIème siècle, Paris, Les éditions du bout de la ville, 2016.

Pruvost G., Quotidien politique. Féminisme, écologie et subsistance. Paris, La Découverte, 2021.


  • Salle de conférences du site Ardennes de l’École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris La Villette - 23 rue des Ardennes
    Paris, France (75)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Wednesday, November 30, 2022


  • milieu rural, expérimentation


  • LAA - Laboratoire Architecture Anthropologie
    courriel : colloques [dot] laa [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Sara Escudero Rubio
    courriel : colloques [dot] laa [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Fields of possibilities », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, https://calenda.org/1016749

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search