New paper on ‘Refugees, race and the limits to rural cosmopolitanism’ in Wales and Ireland

CWPS-WISERD Co-Director Professor Michael Woods has published an open access paper in the Journal of Rural Studies which examines the settlement of refugees and asylum seekers in three small towns in Wales and Ireland, including Aberystwyth and Newtown.

The paper builds on an earlier article that introduced the idea of ‘precarious rural cosmopolitanism’, arguing that whilst ‘cosmopolitanism’ has been conventionally associated with larger cities, recent experiences with migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers demonstrate evidence of cosmopolitanism in rural and small town settings, albeit characterised by precarity.

The new paper probes the precarity of rural cosmopolitanism further. Drawing on case studies from Aberystwyth and Newtown, as well as from Ballyhaunis in Ireland, the paper shows that a cosmopolitan outlook and pride in welcoming refugees is part of the local identity in the three towns. However it argues that ‘cosmopolitanism’ sets up expectations for behaviour and interactions between long-term residents and refugees that can be difficult to maintain. While overt racism is rare in the towns, cosmopolitanism can be eroded by apathy and frustrated by the economic and social limitations of small towns that can restrict the permanent settlement and integration of refugees with the community.

The paper draws on research from the ERC Global Rural  project and the ESRC WISERD Civil Society Research Centre.


This news originally appeared on the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society website.