Rural History 2015

Panel 47

Organizers: Van Molle, Leen (1); Notteboom, Bruno (2); Griffiths, Clare (3); Yves, Segers (1)

Affiliation: 1: KU Leuven, Belgium; 2: UGent, Belgium; 3: University of Sheffield, UK

Title: The ‘embellishment of rural life’ in Europe, first half of the 20th century

"The first part of the twentieth century was characterized in many European countries by a continuous ‘rural exodus’ at the one hand, leading to further urbanization and suburbanization, and an unbridled idealization of the countryside at the other. The ‘homo urbanus’ longed for more green, fresh air and silence, whereas many country dweller anxiously hoped to exchange the backward countryside for the vibrancies of city life. Between these two extremes, a third and very telling position emerged: namely an expanding cross-border movement for the ‘embellishment of rural life’, the improvement of daily life in the countryside in terms of housing, public utilities, transport, schools, libraries, social and medical services, etc. Via conferences, both on a national and international scale, periodicals, inquiries, reports, lectures and even the construction of model farms, the spokespersons of this movement strived for the resuscitation of rural villages via their ambiguous and even paradoxical modernization.
Can we talk about a continuous and coherent movement, from the early twentieth century onwards up to the 1950s? Which countries did participate? Who were the spokespersons in the countries involved? What exactly was the movement striving for? How did it deal with its internal contradictions? To what extent was it related to political parties and influential in local and national politics? And, most importantly, to what extent did country people themselves take part, in order to use or abuse the movement for their own purpose?
The panel aims to unravel the movement in its national and international dimensions and to reveal similarities and variations in time and space."



Chair: Leen Van Molle, KU Leuven, Belgium

Paper 1: The English rural community movement 1918-39: government, community and the embellishment of rural life [+]

Jeremy Burchardt, University of Reading, UK

Paper 2: Preservation and progress: planning the modern countryside in Britain during the 1940s

Clare V J Griffiths, University of Sheffield, UK

Paper 3: Farmers at the World Exhibition: from Modern Village (1913) to Belgian Village (1937) [+]

Bruno Notteboom, Ghent University, Belgium

Paper 4: World War I and redevelopment. The rebuilding of the countryside and farming landscape in Flanders [+]

Dries Claeys, KU Leuven, Belgium


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015