Wrong Side of the Ridge: Charting the Urban Fabric of the Countryside

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Wrong Side of the Ridge: Charting the Urban Fabric of the Countryside

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Publication 2-year master student thesis
Title Wrong Side of the Ridge: Charting the Urban Fabric of the Countryside
Author Damerham, Oscar
Date 2017
English abstract
Echoing through the lecture theatres, conference halls and pages of the contemporary Urban Studies discourse is the oft-repeated refrain that today over half the world’s population live in urban areas, and that by 2050 this proportion is expected to be upwards of 70%. The place of the leftover 50% of people inhabiting a vast and seemingly forgotten 98% of the planet’s rural territory is externalised, apparently lying outside the purview of marching urbanisation. Yet the theory of ‘Planetary Urbanisation’ has emerged in recent years positing a contentious epistemological questioning of Urban Studies’ focus sites, objects and processes. In this it argues for a reorientation of the field towards the ignored rural hinterlands of ‘extended urbanity’ falling under the influence of the fluid process of urbanisation which is transforming the countryside through processes of rationalisation, functionalisation and disintegration. Critiqued as overly abstract, empirically shallow and puritanically ignoring form, this paper investigates and experiments with the theory of planetary urbanisation in a grounded study of a corridor of the Swedish countryside and the village of Röstånga. It does so by a concrete, detailed and dualistic approach to sites of extended urbanisation, integrating both form and process in its analysis. This research exercises this analysis through extricating the city-bound flâneur out into the non-city through a phenomenological 60km, 2 day walk from the city of Malmö to Röstånga. Arriving in Röstånga, this paper then turns its attention to multiple, triangulated methodologies of mapping, observations and interviewing in order to bind our flâneur reflections to the built environment of rurality. In doing so, this research details a changing spatial and social landscape of the Skåne countryside and the village of Röstånga with results exposing an urbanised rurality of hybridity, control and decay and a village of operationalised suburbia, of an externally orientated centre and of disparate social innovations. A discussion of these results then exposes a rural realm simultaneously surrendering to its new reality of extended urbanity and desperately searching for meaning and purpose within it; a landscape wilting under what this paper terms as the shadow of post-political urbanisation. This research than calls for ‘politics of the possible’ in a re-politicisation of the rural and concludes by challenging planners, architects and governments to re-imagine alternatives for this vital if forgotten space.
Publisher Malmö högskola/Kultur och samhälle
Pages 64
Language eng (iso)
Subject countryside
flâneur
Planetary Urbanisation
extended urbanisation
methodological cityism
phenomenology
rural-futurism
villages
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/23246 Permalink to this page
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