This paper examines the local politics through which the reconstitution of rural localities under globalization is advanced and contested, with particular reference to the impact of international amenity migration. It contends that as globalization proceeds not by domination but by hybridization and negotiation, local politics is critical as the sphere in which the outcomes of globalization processes are interpreted and contested. The paper examines the case study of Queenstown Lakes district in South Island, New Zealand, as a locality that has experienced significant transformation through engagement with globalization processes. These include high levels of international amenity in-migration, substantial overseas investment in property, commerce and construction projects, and an increasing volume of international tourists. Collectively, these processes have contributed to rapid population growth and intensive pressure for the development of rural land in the area. As detailed in the paper, land use planning became the dominant issue in local politics, with conflict between groups informed by ‘boosterist’ and ‘environmentalist’ stand-points, as well as the ‘aspirational ruralism’ of amenity in-migrants. Although locally-grounded, the conflict engaged trans-local actors and networks and transgressed space and scale, thus becoming itself an expression of globalization.
Published: August 2011