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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Geography & Environmental Science Seminar Seminar

21 January 2021
Via Teams

Event details

Geography & Environmental Science Seminar


Peipei Chen – Economy, Society and Governance, School of Geography and Environmental Science

Title: Beyond displacement: the relationships between newcomers and local residents in the process of ‘rural gentrification’ in China

The displacement of long-term residents by newly arriving gentrifiers has been a significant character of gentrification in Western research. However, the discussion of displacement in the rural context is much neglected because of depopulation before the arrival of the newcomers. Moreover, researchers claim how displacement does not necessarily involve the direct and physical removal of local people and how the relationship between newcomers and local residents goes beyond displacement, and the straightforward power relations and negative consequences implied by this concept. Drawing on eight months of fieldwork at four Rural Tourism Makers’ model bases in China, including participant observation and 131 interviews with local government officials, Rural Tourism Makers, as well as local residents, this research finds out how the direct displacement of local residents by newly arriving RTMs did not happen in the Chinese context because of the rural land use policy. However, there is a landscape displacement, with local residents imitating RTMs to create spaces that catered to urbanite guests. What is more, RTMs as newcomers have to adapt to the Renqing society in rural China, where local residents have advantageous position because of the hierarchically structured network of social relations embedded in local society. Taken together, these findings confirm the complex relationship between newcomers and local residents, which goes beyond the direct form of displacement privileged by many Western studies of gentrification.

Eliza Garwood – SCDTP Research Fellow within Sociology, Social Policy & Crim.

Title: Normal or radical? Exploring the life stories of adult children raised of LGBTQ parents

Current disciplinary and theoretical strands conceptualise LGBTQ families in profoundly different ways, emphasising sameness, assimilation, normativity, as well as radical difference and the potential for queering the family. However, what is missing within these debates are the voices of the children brought up in these families. This study explores the life narratives of 21 adults raised by LGBTQ parents. In particular, this presentation will discuss how people with LGBTQ parents relate to notions of normality, normativity, radicalism and resistance in their life stories. I trace the various ways participants employ narratives of ‘normal’ family lives to legitimise and communicate their upbringings. However, I also draw out some of the complexities and ambiguities in these narratives, highlighting some of the mundane and everyday ways in which non-normativity is expressed and practiced by participants. 

While participant narratives regularly begun with claims of normality, they often went on to stress the ways they had been made to feel deviant and different, particularly in public spaces. People with LGBTQ parents learnt that, in some contexts, their families were considered unusual because they contradicted cultural and societal expectations about what a family should look like. Therefore, we can see that being different is not a unitary status, instead our understanding of who and what is different depends upon the context in which it is being negotiated. While some may feel comfortable living outside the norm, others narrated moments of discomfort when positioned beyond the limits of intelligibility and acceptability. Thus, life stories highlighted that people raised by LGBTQ parents can understand their families as simultaneously normal and ordinary, while also different and deviant. Through their narratives, participants positioned their families as disruptive, even if they were not striving to be radical or deviant. 

Speaker Information

Peipei Chen, Postgraduate student within Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton.

Eliza Garwood, SCDTP Research Fellow within Sociology, Social Policy & Crim. at the University of Southampton.

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