Birgitte Romme Larsen – Encounters of decentralisation: the state dispersal of asylum centres and governmental institutions to Danish rural areas

Birgitte Romme Larsen is an Associate Professor in Anthropology at the Danish School of Education (DPU), Aarhus University, Denmark. She holds a PhD from the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen. Her main research interests concern local migratory outcomes in rural Scandinavia, with a particular view to processes of exclusion/inclusion, belonging and neighborliness as these play out in the Danish countryside in the everyday encounter between established local communities and asylum seekers, refugees, and relocated state employees. Since, in 2006, embarking on her PhD study amongst newly arrived UN quota refugees, mandatorily placed in small Danish villages, Birgitte’s research has brought forward both the perspectives of migrants and local populations, simultaneously illuminating in a Danish rural setting how in-migrants perceive of their new local environments and how local communities and populations perceive of newcomers and migratory influxes that in various ways transform and reproduce local space and local identities. Across Danish rural districts, in her latest ethnographic studies Birgitte has been exploring and comparing the significance and impact of respectively asylum centres and relocated governmental workplaces on local communities, the main focus being on how the physical dispersal, placement and presence of these diverse state institutions shape and reshape the cultural and social lives of local communities, and – in some cases – condition their self-identifications in a time of protracted rural crisis and unwanted demographic and economic changes following decades of state centralisation.

Gudbjörg Linda Rafnsdóttir – Virtual work and the rural truths. What can we learn from COVID-19?

©Kristinn Ingvarsson

Gudbjörg Linda Rafnsdóttir is professor of sociology and vice rector of science at the University of Iceland. She is Ph.D. in sociology from Lund University, Sweden. She has experience in sociological and interdisciplinary researches mainly on working life, gender and organizational issues. Her main publications are on occupational health and well-being, discrimination, flexibility and virtual work. Her research interest also include social stratification, global work and new trends in working life. She has published a number of articles, book chapters and books in English and the Nordic Languages within this field.

Ilkka Luoto – Paradoxical rural

Ilkka Luoto works as a university lecturer in regional studies, in the school of management, at the University of Vaasa. During his career, Luoto has worked in several rural research and development projects since 1993, and gained his PhD degree in 2008, by exploring the power of narratives in six rural places in Finland and Scotland. He has also been a member of the Rural Policy Council’s strategy group in 2013 and 2019, where guidelines for a national rural policy programme were prepared. In recent years, Luoto has been interested in the national implementation of place-based development, especially in the contexts of rural-urban interplay and digitalization.