Rural Futurism

Assembling the Future in the Countryside


  • Julia Spanier Utrecht University



rural futures, capitalist urbanisation, urban paradigm, utopia, diverse economies, performativity


Both growth-based accounts of urban modernisation and critical assessments of an allegedly planetary process of capitalist urbanisation afford the rural no place in the future. This paper responds to the marginalization of the rural. Conceptually based on insights from the diverse economies agenda and post-colonial and feminist urban theory, it studies how the rural is an agent in the performance of the future, and, in fact, in the construction of more just and desirable futures. It introduces ‘rural futurism’ as a lens to capture these rural performances. The notion of ‘rural futurism’ is chosen to not reproduce a spatiotemporal externalisation of the rural, too easily done in the term ‘rural utopia’. To illustrate the power of this perspective, the paper studies the "Ferme de la Mhotte", a collective in the French countryside. The collective's performance of rural futurism is both based on a transformation of the rural towards being heterogeneous and horizontally connected; and on a re-discovery of the rural as diverse and vertically connected (to, among others, the territory)—providing valuable tools for the construction of more desirable futures. The paper ends on an exploration of the disruptions within the performance of rural futurisms, also interrogating the tension between political engagement towards change and a retreat into the rural off-world.


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How to Cite

Spanier, J. (2020). Rural Futurism: Assembling the Future in the Countryside. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 20(1), 120–141.