Rural America has become an increasingly productive space for critical inquiry and exploration for scholars in many disciplines. From school reform to policing, from healthcare to popular television shows, and everything in between, the rural United States is continually being explored from new vantage points. Current research suggests that rural communities share many of the same kinds of challenges in education, policing, poverty, and healthcare found in urban and suburban communities, disrupting long-standing assumptions about rural America. At the same time, academics and non-academics alike recognize that rural spaces and experiences are distinct.
This conference, sponsored by the Program in American Studies at Princeton University, will explore rural spaces, people, and the law throughout American history and the present. With this conference, we seek to bring together an interdisciplinary group of graduate student researchers and faculty respondents to ask interdisciplinary questions of the social, cultural, legal, religious, and intellectual experiences of rural life. What is “rural”, and how does law constitute a distinctly rural experience for those who live there? How do law, lived experience, and geography interact in distinct ways in rural places?
Alongside keynote speakers Angela Garcia and Lisa Pruitt, we expect participants may explore more specific questions such as, how has rural America changed over time and developed into what we know as rural today? How is policing understood socially by rural residents? What does employment mean when opportunities are dramatically limited because of geography? What is the place of religious commitment in the rural U.S.? In what ways are rural spaces “urban”? How is civic engagement—such as protests and boycotts—changed when anonymity is not possible?
We invite graduate students working in the fields of American Studies, Anthropology, History, Law, English, Political Science, Musicology, Geography, Sociology, Art History, and related fields to submit papers on topics including but not limited to law and:
- Policing in rural communities
- Economic opportunity
- Religious commitment
- Regional rural identity
- Gender in rural spaces
- Race in rural America—both within, and outside of, the South
- Class and poverty in rural places
- Local government law and rural politics
- Federal policies impacting rural America
- Farming and farm laborers
- Hinterlands & Rural-Urban Relationships
- Activism & Civic Engagement
- Cultural stereotypes of rural America
- Environmental studies
- Rural research methods
- Socio-legal studies