Round-up: Urban-Rural Migration in Japan and Europe: Transnational and Comparative Perspectives (02./03.02)

8th February 2023

Entitled “Urban-Rural Migration in Japan and Europe: Transnational and Comparative Perspectives”, an international symposium – held in cooperation by JDZB and FU Berlin and with the kind support of DFG on site in Berlin – assembled scholars with different disciplinary backgrounds as well as practitioners such as mayors, consultants in urban and regional development, and architects from Japan, Germany and various European countries such as the UK, Czechia, Spain and Sweden. To analyze challenges and promises of urban-rural migration and to compare different countries were two of the objectives of this symposium. The event also offered a great chance for younger researchers from within the DFG-project “Urban-rural Migration and Rural Revitalization in Japan” to present their projects. The diversity of speakers and the particularities of the rural regions they focused on brought together a whole spectrum of case studies which alone was impressive by the richness of ideas and concepts coming along. The topics touched upon ranged from housing issues and social inequalities to food produce and ecovillage concepts. One leading question was e.g. about the assumed positive impact on people moving to the countryside, while answers from empirical research showed a much more nuanced picture of how migrants managed their new rural life.

Speakers said in their conclusion that they were surprised to find more commonalities and similarities across national contexts than expected, for example when it came to aspirations among groups of migrants to rural areas, the strategies of urban-rural migration, and also life-style esthetics. As a take-away, panelists called on further respecting and including the perspective of the rural residents themselves. Moreover, some voices encouraged to even look beyond the anthropocentric perspective and questioned the need for revitalization in an ecological view.

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