Bodily Well-being and the Visceral Geographies of the Rural

Authored by: Allison , Jessica Hayes-Conroy

Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138804371
eBook ISBN: 9781315753041
Adobe ISBN: 9781317619864


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Recent work in rural studies, like much of the social sciences at large, has been influenced by the so-called material or affective turn. Scholars have engaged with concepts of relationality, materiality and embodiment, using theoretical frameworks such as non-representational theory and the more-than-human to explore how the material body comes to matter in rural contexts. This chapter seeks to connect this recent work in rural studies to the concept of visceral geography, broadly, and more specifically to visceral difference. ‘Visceral geography’ is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of critical and materially oriented attempts to theorise the body as a geographic space of its own. Visceral difference examines diverse moments of bodily sensation, moods, feelings and physical states of being, and asks how these different moments drive the production of sociospatial experience in varied and uneven ways. In this chapter, we explore why visceral difference matters to rural studies, and, more specifically, why it matters to the promotion of bodily well-being within rural spaces, drawing from our own scholarship to explore various empirical examples related to food, contamination and non-violence. We use the case of the Slow Food movement to explain our focus on difference, and the case of the Fukushima disaster to explore risk management in radioactive landscapes. We end by drawing upon lessons from our research on social activism in Colombia in order to enable conversation between the global north and south.

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