Assembling Newtown is an attempt to understand the many different ways a small rural town interacts with other places through what we might call ‘global processes’. These include the ways a town and its people interact through trade, communications, culture and media, movement of people, economic transactions and politics. In many ways we are trying to assemble a picture of Newtown as it is today and how it has changed over the last fifty years.
This two year project has taken Newtown as an example of an everyday sort of town located in a rural area to see if we can trace these connections and interactions to better understand how ‘globalization’ works and what impact this is having on people’s everyday lives. It is part of a larger five-year research project (GLOBAL-RURAL) funded by the European Research Council and led by Professor Michael Woods at Aberystwyth University in Great Britain.
The larger GLOBAL-RURAL research programme is funded by the European Research Council to look at ways ‘globalization’ is affecting rural areas in different parts of the world. It is interested in all dimensions of globalization, for example; trade agreements; foreign investment; the expansion of transnational corporations; international migration; tourism; the spread of global culture and the consequences of international environmental agreements and treaties – among others. These different processes of globalization have all had an impact on rural economies and societies, but the nature of the impact has been different in different places. By investigating local experiences of globalization we hope to improve our understanding about how precisely globalization operates, and why some places seem to fare better than others in adapting to the changes that it brings.
For more information about the wider research project have a look at: www.global-rural.org
While many of the GLOBAL-RURAL research projects have an international focus some are grounded in an ongoing in depth study of Newtown in mid Wales.
The Newtown project
Newtown, like most small rural towns, has been integrated into global (or at least international) networks of trade and culture for a very long time. It has experienced peaks and troughs as markets and social attitudes have changed resulting in an ongoing process of reinvention. In some ways Newtown is the archetypal global village. It is at once a typical small market town and at the same time, like every other place, it is totally exceptional with its own unique history and combination of people, ideas, resources and institutions.
In order to try to understand how present-day Newtown is embedded in processes of globalisation we will look both backwards and forwards – charting the dynamics of everyday globalization that have shaped the town over the past five decades and how contemporary global processes are affecting the town today.
This will broadly involve:
- Exploring how global influences have touched the town over the last fifty years
- Tracing the routine connections that now link Newtown and its residents to the wider world through, for example, business investment and trade, travel, migration, consumption, culture and social networking
- Considering how residents of Newtown understand globalization and its impacts both on the town itself, as well as on their own lives; their everyday interactions, habits and outlooks
The project explores a number of themes to develop a detailed understanding of Newtown and its relations with the wider world. Some of these will involve working closely with local organizations and communities, who we hope will have their own ideas to contribute about the types of issues we should be examining. Others will involve the use of GIS techniques and social media to map and visualize the town and its connections in innovative ways.
As well as becoming involved in community life in Newtown, we hope this research will ultimately be meaningful for Newtown; for example, the research could contribute towards plans for developing the town, generate educational materials and resources for use in local schools, and give residents a chance to reflect on the place in which they live through a final exhibition showcasing the project findings in 2017.
The Newtown research project runs from autumn 2014 to the end of 2016, although work in Newtown on other aspects of the GLOBAL-RURAL project will continue to the end of 2018.
You can find out more about our research on the pages of this website, which includes summaries of our research, and will include copies of reports and articles we produce from it.
Receive news about the research by signing up on the website for our e-mail newsletter, or by following us on Twitter at @globalrural.