Rural Cultural Research Program

Project Coordinator: Prof Kate Darian-Smith and Dr Chris Gibson

Rural Cultural Research Program website @ Uni of Wollongong


The Cultural Histories and Cultural Geographies sub-nodes have combined to develop a three year (2006-2008) program of activities in rural cultural research. This will include a program of workshops, symposia, masterclasses for postgraduate and ECRs and other activities over the three years. Outcomes include a substantial web-based resource data base; grant applications; and publications.

The overarching aims of the program are:

We are interested in examining how people make sense of their lived experience and locality, and how this is shaped by and influenced by government policy and planning (eg in relation to transport, communications and consumption infrastructure; migration patterns; cultural activities, festivals and creative industries; and so on). Our research will examine new, continuing (or changing) discourses of rurality, including those of

Such discourses are framed within wider understandings of the interconnections between rurality, suburbanism and urbanism; between localized and national ‘belonging’, citizenship and identity; and through understandings of mobility and life-course transition.

A specific focus — or indeed a ‘case study’ in interdisciplinary rural cultural research — has been identified as ‘Family Life, reproductive choice, and the new cultural discourse of Australian rurality’. This will explore the impact of new or changing discourses of rurality in terms of family and lifestyle choices, drawing on case studies of rural communities across three states (Victoria, NSW and Queensland). An ARC Discovery application on this theme will be submitted in early 2007 (for 2008).


To date, members of the CRN who have indicated interest and been involved in planning discussions are: Kate Darian-Smith (Melbourne); Kate Bowles (Wollongong); Chris Gibson (Wollongong); David Carter (Queensland). However, it is certainly anticipated that activities and events will incorporate several others in the CRN as the program develops, and as there are intersections of interest. The program will also involve postgraduates and ECRs.

There have also been initial discussions with Gordon Waitt (Wollongong) and his involvement is seen as crucial to the program development, and to the ARC Discovery application. Gordon Waitt and Kate Bowles have current seed funding from the University of Wollongong for a project examining rural media cultures, which in many respects proved catalytic in the development of this project.


Project Activities

Industry Partners Workshop
Brisbane, September 2007

Rural Festivals Symposium
Sydney, December 2007

GIS Workshop for Rural Research
Wollongong, 2007

Rural Cultural Research Website: Resources and Database
A database of resources and publications, and researchers working in the field (currently under development)

Planning Workshops
Four workshops are planned to guide this project from start up to completion

Rural Cultural Research Symposium
Wollongong, July 2007

Planned outcomes of the workshops


Australian Humanities Review, Issue 45, 2008

Special Section: Rural Cultural Studies