Spring 2017 Awards

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Small Grants Awarded Spring 2017

Rural Inequalities Amidst Economic Crisis and Change: A Special Issue of The Journal of Rural Studies (David Brown)

“Rural Inequalities Amidst Economic Crisis and Change” shapes and motivates the special issue we are producing for the Journal of Rural Studies (5 yr. impact factor 3.4). Throughout the global north, rural areas lag behind national rates of economic growth, suffer from chronic out migration of young adults and better educated persons, have lower accessibility to essential services, and have weaker institutional capacities. However, scholars have also shown that rural regions are highly differentiated with opportunities resulting from long term economic restructuring, and changes in urban and rural lifestyles (Ward and Brown 2006). In other words, at the same time that many rural regions are lagging, other types of rural regions are prospering because of tourism and recreation, and enhanced extra-local relationships. This special issue will provide an analysis of the determinants and consequences of inequalities across a wide range of domains of interest to rural scholars including the economy, local government and other public institutions, population size and structure, agriculture and the food system and environmental management. Ten papers are currently under consideration; 2 from Cornell, 2 from Penn State, 1 from Syracuse, and 5 from our UK colleagues. These papers consider how the various domains are effected by immediate crises, and by longer term transformations of fundamental social economic, and institutional structures. Of equal significance is the profound political change and uncertainty exemplified by the Brexit vote in the UK, and the unexpected results of the 2016 US election. Early interpretations suggest both outcomes are, at least in part, expressions of anger at the persistence and increase in social and spatial inequalities in particular types of areas. It is timely to consider the spatial expression of these inequalities, and persistent failures to equitably redistribute wealth, security, and quality of life.   


How Are Alternative Institutions Producing, Practicing, and Contesting Africa’s Future? Working Paper Workshop (Janet Smith and Ewan Robinson)

Social relations in Africa are being reconfigured in the 21st century as new sets of actors contest political power structures, reimagine African histories, and forge alternative visions of development on the continent. Thirty years ago, Euro-American institutions dominated development discourse on African societies’ histories and desirable futures. Today this hegemony has been fractured, as the role of transnational diaspora, private business networks, religious movements, urban youth and South-South cooperation initiatives are recognized as prominent actors shaping political, economic and social representations and dynamics. With support from the Polson Institute, doctoral students from Cornell University’s Department of Development Sociology will host a three-day graduate-led workshop focused on emerging actors in African development. Bringing together six students from several universities, as well as an invited faculty facilitator, the workshop will allow students to present in-progress research, engage critically with a range of theoretical and methodological approaches, and exchange feedback with peers and faculty. The organizers anticipate that, following the workshop, participants will revise their papers and submit them as a special issue in a scholarly journal. By bringing together a dynamic and multi-disciplinary group of doctoral students, the workshop will stimulate innovative discussions about social change and development in contemporary Africa, create links between universities, and contribute to the Africanist community at Cornell.