Geographies of connectivity: a relational perspective on ‘autonomous’ Eco-villages in Romania

Flora Sonkin, MSc. International Development Studies at Wageningen University, followed the course of Global Sense of Place (RSO-55306) of the Rural Sociology Group. For the course, she wrote an essay on Eco-villages. Below, a summary of her essay.

IMG_7978.JPGDebates in contemporary social theory and political geography on the use of relational theory as a conceptual framework (found in the works of Escobar, Harvey, Massey and others), have generated a fertile ground to the deconstruction of the concept of place as bounded space. Through the use of a relational approach, space is seen as a social construction (Harvey, 1994). Consequently, it becomes a result of interactions, which are neither static nor limited to boundaries. In other words, thinking space relationally means that place is not defined as a locality or mere geographic position, but as a complex network of relations, a product of multiple trajectories and practices (Massey, 2004).

The aim of the paper I wrote on eco-villages is to contribute to the academic and activist discussion on the creation of different realities or “other worlds” in the present, using the case of eco-villages and the Global Ecovillage Network to illustrate the possibility to live within alternative forms of socio-economic organization without withdrawing from mainstream connections and social relations. Here, eco-villages and the global network are first characterized as a social movement which aims for self-sufficient living, being also put into the category of an ‘autonomous geography’ (Pickerill & Chatterton 2006). Continue reading

Students invited for the course ‘A Global sense of place’

For whom?
We invite all master students interested in sustainable development, spatial development, community building, place-based policy, rural socio-logy and anthropology for this course.

This course gives an overview of place-based approaches in development. A relational place-based approach is key to the understanding of interrelated rural and urban transformation processes and sustainable development. Places are considered as contingent but in time and space differentiated outcomes of three interrelated, unbounded, transformative processes: political-economic, ecological and social-cultural.
We will have discussions about:
• Sense of place
• Places as sites of negotiation and power struggles
• The constitution of identities, subjectivities and difference.
• Politics of place.

Why should you follow this course?
• Interesting international guest lectures (if enough students attend the course)
• Inter-disciplinary approach
• Urban and rural cases
• Interactive discussions in small groups

Some practical information:
Course code: RSO 55306; ECTS: 6, When: Period 2;
Lectures and Workshops on: Monday-, Tuesday-, Thursday- mornings.
Interested? For more information on the course see the detailed Course outline RSO-55306 (2012-2013) final

Re-making of place in Maramures, Romania – MSc-thesis reserach

By Anthonet Baijense, MSc-student International Development Studies (Research Master Variant).

Currently, I stay in Romania were I will spend my summer to learn the language, visit friends, do some traveling and last, but most importantly: to gather data for my master thesis. I am pleased to write once and a while about my experiences and research here and I hope you enjoy to read it!

Some students visited Romania last February as part of the Intensive Programme, and wrote some blogs with their reflections: e.g. on Traditional food. It was very nice to read about your experiences! Indeed, the Romanian saying goes that ‘my favorite vegetable is meat’ and for a vegetable freak as me, it was a change of diet! Amazing what people here eat for breakfast! It took me some time to get adapted! I stay in the North of Romania, in the district called the Maramureş, which is on the border with Ukraine. Because traveling around here is –let’s just say- complicated, my research focuses mainly on one village: Poienile Izei (see photo’s).

Let me now introduce you to my research as well. If you go on Google to find some pictures of the area where I stay, you will gain the impression that the Maramureş is indeed –as often described- a rural area overflowing of traditions and with a traditional style of life and architecture.

Continue reading