Keynote by Katherine Jellison chaired by Gérard Béaur in the Amphitheatre Liard (Sorbonne) during the Rural History 2019.

From 10 to 13 September 2019, Paris (France) hosted the Rural History 2019. This is the fourth biennial conference of the European Rural History Organisation (EURHO), organized by the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). It is also one more step towards the consolidation of a broader perspective for rural studies in Europe.

EURHO was officially launched in the Rural History 2010, the first European meeting for rural historians that took place in Brighton (England). Three years later, Bern (Switzerland) hosted the first Rural History conference under EURHO supervision, in 2013.

Rural History conference aims at promoting “a dialogue between rural history researchers which aims to surpass national frontiers, cross chronological barriers and break down disciplinary boundaries”. The path to getting to this larger approach, renewing rural history studies in Europe, has its origin in another important network: CORN.

Rural History 2019: the four biennial conference of EURHO.

The grandfather

One of the main responsibles for making EURHO a reality is its current president, Gérard Béaur, professor at EHESS. Béaur submitted a project to the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), a funding organisation for the creation of research networks, that allowed the regular gathering of European researchers from the field of Rural Studies for four years (2005-2008) and gave rise to a growing collection of books named Rural History in Europe (RURHE). Béaur explains that this was an important step held in 2004, but he also highlights the role of CORN in this process. The Comparative Rural History of the North Sea (CORN) is a research network founded in 1995 with the goal of studying long term development of rural society from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century.

“If the COST project is the father of EURHO, there is a grandfather which is CORN. I was very satisfied with that purpose, but we needed to enlarge, to broaden the studies. People could not do it at that time but now we can”, remarks Béaur.

ReSEED´s principal investigator, Dulce Freire, is part of EURHO´s Management Committee as a representative of the Rural RePort, the Portuguese rural history network. She has been involved in the process of creation and development of EURHO from the beginning. “The results of European projects may take years. Currently, we have a broader and essential debate about the rural, agricultural, environmental and food past not only of Europe but also of the territories that have created connections with the old continent. Rural History 2019 has strengthened it”, evaluates Freire.

EURHO´s next conferences will take place in Uppsala (Sweden) in 2021 and in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) in 2023.