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Back to the land: historiography, rurality and the nation in interwar Wales

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This paper presents an explanation of the appeal of the rural in interwar Wales and the emergence of 'back to the land' tendencies. The context is the fluid and contested understanding of the nation and of national identity. The 'moral topography' of academics at Aberystwyth, most notably the geographer H J Fleure, is outlined. A view of rural society as essentially stable and spiritually virtuous emerges from this work. The development of such ideas within Welsh nationalist politics is outlined and 'back to the land' proposals, from academics and politicians, are discussed. A consideration of the relationship between the traditional and the modern and the role of the rural within this relationship forms the conclusion.

Keywords: Wales; back to the land; geography; modernity; national identity; ruralism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1994

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