There has been a recent expansion of interest in cultural approaches to rural communities and to the economic and social situation of rurality more broadly. This interest has been particularly prominent in Australia in recent years, spurring the emergence of an interdisciplinary field called 'rural cultural studies'.
This collection is framed by a large interdisciplinary research project that is part of that emergence, particularly focused on what the idea of 'cultural sustainability' might mean for understanding experiences of growth, decline, change and heritage in small Australian country towns. However, it extends beyond the initial parameters of that research, bringing together a range of senior and emerging Australian researchers who offer diverse approaches to rural culture. The essays collected here explore the diverse forms that rural cultural studies might take and how these intersect with other disciplinary approaches, offering a uniquely diverse but also careful account of life in country Australia. Yet, in its emphasis on the simultaneous specificity and cross-cultural recognisability of rural communities, this book also outlines a field of inquiry and a set of critical strategies that are more broadly applicable to thinking about the "rural" in the early twenty-first century.
This book will be valuable reading for students and academics of Geography, History, Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, Anthropology and Sociology, introducing rural cultural studies as a new dynamic and integrative discipline.
1. Rethinking Australian country towns
Catherine Driscoll, Kate Darian-Smith and David Nichols
Part I: Place
2. On boredom: hometown
3. Music and community in Australian country towns: choir singing, belonging and emotion
Chris Gibson and Andrea Gordon
4. Cultural progress in a rural community: the Swan Hill Shakespeare Festival
Kate Darian-Smith, David Nichols and Jane Grant
5. Farm lit: reading narratives of love on the land
Imelda Whelehan and Barbara Pini
6. Deceptive Darwin, the country capital
Part II: Experience
7. Hometown: sustainable queerness in the more-than-human country town
8. ‘A special Australian country thing’: the small hall in Australian country life
David Nichols, Kate Bowles and Gordon Waitt
9. Sticky places: temporality, affect and gender in Australian country towns
Anna Hickey-Moody and Jane Kenway
10. Talk of the town in drought country
Part III: Progress
11. Broome’s economy: renaturalising neoliberalism?
12. Fostering equality, maintaining hierarchy: problems of race and class in the Country Women’s Association of New South Wales, 1956–1970
13. Gender relations in a rural community
14. Something to play every day: rural retirement culture