Re-imagining Ruralities: From Heartlands to Hinterlands

Friday, March 8, 4:45PM – 7:00PM
The Graduate Center, CUNY
Skylight Conference Room 9100

Re-imagining Ruralities: From Heartlands to Hinterlands

Screening: Two films by director Adam James Smith

Arapaho Pasture
(15 minutes, 2024)
*Special preview screening

Arapaho Pasture follows Northern Arapaho cowboys tending to their horses and cattle during a harsh winter on the largest Native American ranch in the United States. This film is part of the director’s Heartland project.

(80 minutes, 2020)

Hidden among the mountains north of Beijing, a Wild-West themed gated community promises to deliver the American dream to its several thousand Chinese residents. In Americaville, Annie Lui escapes China’s increasingly uninhabitable capital city to pursue happiness, freedom, romance and spiritual fulfillment in the town, only to find the American idyll harder to attain than she was led to expect by the town’s developers.

This screening is part of the Re-imagining Ruralities: From Heartlands to Hinterlands workshop at the Center for Place, Culture and Politics.

This two-day workshop brings together humanities scholars and social scientists to think about how the rural has been imagined and might be reimagined in the context of globalization. Often conceived – in idyllic and pastoral genres – as a realm offering a refuge from globalization and its driving forces, capitalism and (neo)colonialism – or, alternatively, as a realm about to lose its distinctiveness as it is swallowed up by planetary urbanization, how can we imagine ruralities – pluralized, historicized and thought across their materialities, epistemologies, and affectivities – otherwise? And, conversely, how might we imagine globalization as not only about urbanization but also about ruralization? To move away from the dominant binary through which rurality is thought – that of the country versus the city – we look to concepts like the heartland, the hinterland, the borderland, the commodity frontier, the plantation, the provincial, the peripheral, and the regional to reimagine ruralities as coextensive with not just the urban but also the suburban and the wilderness, but harboring distinct qualities, quandaries and potentialities.

The workshop comes out of the Rural Imaginations project, funded by the European Research Council and based at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, which explores how contemporary cultural imaginations (novels, films, television series) in five national contexts (the UK, the US, the Netherlands, South Africa and China) make (in)visible particular aspects of globalized rural life and how this affects the political mobilization of the rural. The workshop is organized in partnership with the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the CUNY Graduate Center

DAY 1: Skylight Room 9100
DAY 2: CPCP Room 6107

Seating is limited. Please register by emailing

This event is co-organized by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and the University of Amsterdam Faculty of Humanities, and sponsored by the European Research Council.