Refugees, race and the limits of rural cosmopolitanism: Perspectives from Ireland and Wales

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In many parts of the Global North, the imagined (and often illusionary) “whiteness” of rural societies has been both exposed and contested by the transnational movements of racialised migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers and other immigrants. Such dynamics have prompted a renegotiation of ideas of race and rurality, with both reactionary responses of white populism and more progressive responses that assert a “rural cosmopolitanism” that evokes associations with hospitality, solidarity and community in rural culture. To explore these themes, this paper discusses evidence from three rural towns in Ireland and Wales with recent settlement of refugees or asylum seekers. The paper examines the articulation of a discourse of cosmopolitanism in the towns, the roles that are scripted within these discourses, both for migrants and for established residents, and the performance of these expectations. It reveals gaps between discourse and practice, with “actually existing cosmopolitanism” in the towns being characterized by ambivalence and precarity. The paper argues that both the discursive construction and the partial practice of cosmopolitanism are embedded in the rural, non-metropolitan settings of the towns and informed by place-specific palimpsests of migration and colonialism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-325
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Early online date29 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2022


  • Ireland
  • Migration
  • Refugees
  • Rural cosmopolitanism
  • Wales


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