‘Rurality’ and ‘the Urban” Two archetypes that conceptualize the spatial development of human territories

The Gleaners Jean-François Millet completed in 1857. Current location: Musée d'Orsay
The Gleaners
Jean-François Millet completed in 1857. Current location: Musée d’Orsay

Regarding the study of human settlements, one interrogation is shared among the endless publications that analyze human agglomerations, this primal question is: what does ‘The Urban’ mean? Definitions about ‘the urban’ have been formulated concerning variables such as function, size, density, area, context, history, culture, economic development, international influence, and so on.

On the other hand, ‘The Rural’ is regularly interpreted in order to provide a parallel archetype opposed to the urban question. Pieter Versteegh believes that ‘research on the urban is as necessary as abundant. Yet tremendous rural territories still exist, inhabited by 20-50% of the world populations (figures depending on the statistics, definitions, areas, etc.)’. He also indicates that Rurality survives more or less, even today, in the occidental world’s overdeveloped societies, of a minority and vegetative existence. It could be argued that nowadays the rural-urban paradigms are switching; as Bujis, Tan and Tunas have stated, the distinctions of urban-rural dichotomy are fading; they argue that due to increasing scale, the typical distinction between the city and the countryside is becoming meaningless.

Hong Kong author:Romain Jacquet-Lagreze web: http://www.rjl-art.com/index.php
Hong Kong author:Romain Jacquet-Lagreze web: http://www.rjl-art.com/index.php

The term Emerging Landscapes is a core definition because it pursuits an escape from the dichotomy urban//rural that is often present in the works that study the spatial development of territories. Selecting thresholds of population is the first concern of this methodology; its purpose is to avoid the seduction of the often inflexible decimal system when categorizing human settlements by the number of their inhabitants.

The intention is to elude the risks of discarding human settlements founded on absolute numbers, therefore ignoring settlements that have the potential of being considered either part of ‘the urban’ or part of ‘the rural’. Thus, in order to compose the term Emerging Landscapes, the first step is to define the margin of tolerance towards both thresholds (minimum and maximum).


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