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Ruralities in Action Resources, Temporalities, Imaginaries, Empowerments

Ruralités en action. Imaginaires, ressources, temporalités, pouvoirs d’agir

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Published on Tuesday, January 08, 2019


Après avoir traité des transitions énergétiques en 2015 et des transitions économiques en 2017, les rencontres 2019 du réseau « Espace rural et projet spatial » (ERPS) poursuivront cette réflexion en interrogeant les nouvelles formes d’action et de démocratie à l’œuvre dans les territoires ruraux. Sont ainsi convoqués pour ces prochaines rencontres les savoirs disciplinaires, experts et citoyens fondés sur la praxis, permettant d’explorer, au prisme des transitions, les modalités d’action et les imaginaires politiques associés au projet spatial dans ses différentes échelles et finalités. 


Call for papers for the 9th Conference of the “Espace rural et projet spatial” (Rural Space & Spatial Design) network 10-12 October 2019, CERMOSEM, Domaine du Pradel, Mirabel


Having dealt with energy transition in 2015 (Coste, et al., 2018) and economic transition in 2017, the 2019 conference for the ERPS (Espace rural et projet spatial -Rural Space & Spatial Design) network will further pursue these avenues of thought by examining the new forms of action and democracy at work in rural territories. The next conference will therefore call for disciplinary, local and expert knowledge founded on praxis, enabling, through the prism of transition, an examination of the modes of action and the political visions associated with the various different levels and aims of spatial design.

Whilst contemporary urbanisation has a marked impact on the material and ecological aspect of territories, it is also disrupting the societies living in them, dramatically reducing (and often completely stripping them of) their capacity for self-determination, i.e. their ability to interact with the environment and transform it in a self-sustaining manner (Sassen, 2014). Even more so than in the cities, which have often been a breeding ground for resistance, these processes of dispossession have had a profound impact on rural territories, affected by sweeping changes to their economies. So-called “popular” knowledge and skills have been diminished and delegitimised (Darré, 2006; Salmona, 1994) by the hyper-technification of the environment and the encroaching power of science, expanding the gulf between the political sphere and that of everyday life and gradually stripping local populations of their capacity for action, particularly collective action.

Nevertheless, outside of these “broader trends”, a myriad of smaller scale initiatives bring into question the spheres of public action, the relevance of territorial divisions and related expertise. We consider such initiatives to be part of a transition process, as defined by philosopher Pascal Chabot (2015), namely “a way of understanding and bringing about change”. 

In terms of the environment, the idea of a complete break with the past now seems impossible: contemporary environmental politics has itself abandoned the “lost paradise” illusion underpinning the idea of revolution (Hache, 2012); the only option now seems to be adaptation to climate change, coming to a forced compromise with the effects of society’s past choices. In what kind of philosophy of action does this evolution result, in the field of spatial design? 

Moreover, a kind of “collective narrative” seems to be springing, bottom-up, from these initiatives at grassroots level, through the invention of new forms of production and consumption based on conviviality, solidarity and self-sustainability (Becattini, 2015). From this are emerging several forms of reterritorialisation, reviving issues of community and the principle of subsidiarity, in which decision-making and responsibility for any action rests with the most directly affected group.

What particularly interests us in this collective narrative is the recurring question of direct democracy and methods of self-management, as evidenced for example by the resurgence of such terms as “sovereignty” and “autonomy” with regard to food, technology, energy etc. Faced with what is often seen as top-down public action, often subject to the pressures of powerful private interests (connected to the financialisation of the global economy) and led by so-called “common interest”, these initiatives lay claim to the existence and legitimacy of a we: real individuals with existences, knowledge, questions and expectations translated into action (Dardot & Laval, 2014). Similarly in France, as abroad, the major citizen-led struggles against the forces of territorial appropriation -from the occupation of Larzac in the 1970s, to that of Notre-Dame-des-Landes- are, to a certain extent, observatories of ways that a we might function, making such movements indissociable from the territories in which they arise. All of these “ruralities in action”, through this double aspect of we and with, bring forth new forms of territorialities and the reappropriation of a capacity for action by the inhabitants-users-citizens (Bassand, 2001).


So what are the conditions governing the identification and reinvention of this “with us”, which is more pilot than demiurge (Larrère & Larrère, 2015), in rurally-based project practices? It is to this area of thought that the 9th ERPS conference turns, drawing on four main themes: visions, resources, temporalities and empowerments. 

Using these ideas and the discussions they spark as a springboard, we will thence examine their political and spatial issues based on real-life cases: in rural territories, can we talk about the emergence of a we, a collective conscience capable of constituting a form of action to "change the real world"? What would that look like? At a time of global environmental crisis, and of radical demographic change in France, it seems vital that we question the forms of the territorialities which are emerging from these local initiatives, at the point where collectively constructed open territorialities intersect.

Imaginaries. Rural life should not be seen as a stable and changing entity but as : “a body of economical, ecological, societal and ethical attitudes, values and qualities that deserve renewed analysis” (Versteegh, 2015). The activist aspect of projects “with” and “for” rural territories aims to transcend all forms of self-referentiality and nostalgia; its collective mission is to write about new visions of rurality, responding to the challenge that metropolisation imposes in terms of "territorial equitableness” (Guillot, 2016) Discussion around this issue will be further extended following that at the last two conferences on the capacity of transition (whether energy, economic, etc.) to generate new stories and new representations of contemporary rural life.

Resources. This need not be understood in this instance as a purely material concept, as is generally the case in spatial and design studies. So-called latent resources (Tufano, 2016), or non-material resources as Jana Revedin refers to them, are “all the knowledge about complex organisms that are our inhabited environments: the movement of communities, flows and shifts (…). They are also resources to be extracted from the law and political economy, resources often forged by societies themselves, in their perpetual drive perpetual towards collective organisation and the emancipation of individuals and adaptation to circumstances” (2018). How is the understanding of material and immaterial resources constructed in conjunction with territorial forecasts? How do these non-material resources draw on material resources and interests (Godelier, 1984)?

Temporalities. This concept refers to the time of political action as well as to the influence of speed in the construction and rhythms of our ways of life. This vital concept links two determining areas of thought regarding our living areas: space (distance) and time, as well as our relation to speed and slowness. At another level, the experience of proximity to the elements and cycles of nature remains, despite the urbanisation of our ways of life, a defining feature of rural territories which itself opens up another possible understanding of the time of action: that of apposite moments, the critical moment for the right action, as expressed by the Greek term kairos, καιρός (Aubenque, 1963). How is the process of spatial design affected when we take account of these multiple temporalities? To what extent does it reveal ways of living and initiatives which form an alternative to the process of metropolisation?

Empowerments. As a corollary to the previous themes, here we will be looking at the forms of political action which come out of citizen-led initiatives and local movements (Dardot & Laval, 2014). Alongside participative practices re-institutionalised within public action, these initiatives are evidence of the awareness of a capacity for collective action and put the role of planning as a political tool in a new light. Whilst they draw on diverse political sources and values, what they have in common is that they instigate forms of critical resistance and forces of opposition, alongside practical experimentation in areas of life such as work, home, etc. (Nicolas-Le-Strat, 2016). Social transformation projects might then be seen as a response to a demand for social participation and transformation. Do rural territories give rise to specific methods of social and collective experimentation? To what extent do lifestyle changes represent a force for empowerment and, ultimately, emancipation (Bacqué & Biewener, 2013)? 

Required details and practical information

The 9th ERPS Conference wishes to draw a diverse public: not only researchers from different fields but also those working in the community and in civil society. They will be organised in separate sessions. This call for contributions is addressed to individuals, institutions, associations and groups who wish to coordinate one of these sessions.

Proposals should specify the intended format for the session, which may take the following forms: 

  • a round table, with prospective guests and a subject for debate;
  • a workshop which aims to produce, during the session, a text, a manifesto or an agreement etc. with the attendance of specific groups (e.g. students, workers in the field, specialists, political activists, etc.) or open to all participants;
  • a film debate, organised around a screening which will take place during the ERPS conference;
  • an exhibition with guided tour;
  • taster session with debate;
  • guided tour of a site;
  • ambulatory conference;
  • etc.

The proposed session should also set out, in a text of around 2000 characters: 

  • proposed session coordinators;
  • proposed guests;
  • intended audience for the session; 
  • a brief introductory talk or other presentation format (bibliography, website, etc.);
  • a presentation drawing together relevant themes and issues;
  • session duration (there are two possible formats: 90 minutes or 3 hours). 

Submission Guidelines

Proposals should be submitted by the 15th of February 2019 in PDF format to the following address:



Meetings will take place at CERMOSEM, Domaine du Pradel de Mirabel, Ardèche. 

This is a joint initiative between the ERPS network (ENSA Saint-Etienne), ENSA Lyon and the PNR in Monts d’Ardèche.


The conference will be held on 10-12 October 2019. 

Schedule of events

  • End November 2018 - distribution of call for contributions/general synopsis
  • Early February 2019 - submission of proposals for contributions
  • March 2019: Scientific Committee feedback
  • End April: distribution of specific calls for contributions for selected sessions (where required)
  • May 2019 - Submission of session contributions with Scientific Committee feedback by end of May
  • July 2019 - Distribution of finalised programme
  • October 2019 - Conference

Scientific Committee

  • Luna d’Emilio, maîtresse de conférences, ENSA Lyon, EVS-LAURe (UMR 5600)
  • Sandra Fiori, maîtresse de conférences, ENSA Lyon, EVS-LAURe (UMR 5600)
  • Xavier Guillot, professeur, ENSAP Bordeaux, Passages  (UMR 5319)
  • François Nowakowski, maître de conférences, ENSA Lyon, LAB’URBA (EA 3482), LAURe (ENSA Lyon)
  • Jean-Yves Quay, architecte, maître assistant honoraire, ENSA Lyon, LAURe (ENSA Lyon)
  • Nadine Ribet, maîtresse de conférences associée, ENSA Lyon, LACI (IIAC, UMR 8177), LAURe (ENSA Lyon)
  • Manuel Bello Marcano, maître de conférences, ENSA Saint-Etienne, GRF Transformations
  • Agnès Berland-Berton, professeure, Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, Passages (UMR 5319) 
  • Vincent Bradel, maître de conférences, ENSA Nancy, LHAC
  • Claire Brossaud, chercheure associée, EVS-LAURe (UMR 5600)
  • Jennifer Buyck, maîtresse de conférences, Université Grenoble-Alpes, PACTE (UMR  5194)
  • Eric Charmes, directeur de recherche, ENTPE, RIVES (UMR 5600)
  • Helène Douence, maîtresse de conférences, Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, Passages (UMR 5319) 
  • Rosa De Marco, maîtresse de conférences, ENSA Paris La Villette, LAVUE (UMR 7218)
  • Amélie Flamand, maîtresse de conférences, ENSA Clermont-Ferrand, GRF Ressources
  • Maria Rita Gisotti, maîtresse de conférences, Université de Florence,  DIDA-PROBIUR
  • Georges Henri Laffont, maître de conférences, ENSA Saint-Etienne, GRF Transformations
  • Sylvie Lardon, professeure, INRA-AgroParisTech, UMR « Territoires »
  • Elise Macaire, maîtresse de conférences associée, ENSA Paris la Villette, LAVUE-LET (UMR 7218)
  • Odile Marcel, professeure émérite, Université Lyon 3
  • David Marcillon, maître de conférences, ENSA Clermont-Ferrand, LAVUE-Gerphau (UMR 7218)
  • Jean-Baptiste Marie, maître de conférences, ENSA Clermont-Ferrand, GRF Ressources
  • Béatrice Mariolle, professeure, ENSAP Lille, AUsser-IPRAUS (UMR 3329)
  • Abdourahmane Ndiaye, chercheur associé, Passages (UMR 5319)
  • Pascal Nicolas-Le Strat, professeur, Université Paris 13, Experice (EA 3971)
  • Alexis Pernet, maître de conférences, ENSP Versailles, LAREP
  • Daniela Poli, professeure, Université de Florence, DIDA-PROBIUR
  • Bertrand Retif, maître de conférences, ENSA Clermont-Ferrand
  • Laurent Rieutort, professeur, Université Clermont-Auvergne, UMR « Territoires »
  • David Robin, maître de conférences, ENSA Clermont-Ferrand
  • Mathias Rollot, maître de conférences associé, EAVT Marne-la-vallée, AUsser (UMR 3329)
  • Nadine Roudil, professeure, CRH (UMR LAVUE), LAURe (ENSA Lyon)
  • Frédéric Saunier, maître de conférences, ENSA Rouen, ATE
  • Nadia Sbiti, maîtresse de conférences, ENSA Bretagne, GRIEF (EA 7425)
  • Marc Verdier, maître de conférences, ENSA Nancy
  • Pieter Versteegh, professeur, ESA Paris
  • Chris Younès, professeure émérite, LAVUE-Gerphau (UMR 7218)



  • CERMOSEM, Domaine du Pradel
    Mirabel, France (07)


  • Friday, February 15, 2019


  • ruralité, imaginaire, ressources, temporalités, pouvoirs d'agir


  • Luna d'Emilio
    courriel : rencontres [dot] erps2019 [at] gmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Luna d'Emilio
    courriel : rencontres [dot] erps2019 [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

« Ruralities in Action Resources, Temporalities, Imaginaries, Empowerments », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, January 08, 2019, https://doi.org/10.58079/11o9

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