This chapter sketches out aspects of the economic and cultural dimensions of The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) 'films in space', and explores the 'spaces in the films', most particularly its rural spaces. It focuses on the notions of 'spaces of film' and 'film in space' to examine rural socio-spatial identities being performed within and around the film industry of New Zealand. New Zealand has been described as 'Britain's Farm' and it may well be that the imagined geographies of the rurality of New Zealand and England are for many people not as distinct as their spatial differentiation might suggest. The chapter also explores one particular space of film by considering the economic and the cultural impacts of the film in Aotearoa/New Zealand. If the films enact an imaginative geography involving movement through differing constructions of rural space, they also enact movement through imaginative geographies of nature as well.
Everyday life in the countryside has undergone profound changes, especially in the global North. Agriculture and forestry have ceased to dominate rural employment and the division between work and leisure has grown ever more substantial. Historically, place attachments and community-based identities among rural people grew out of shared rhythms, the collective shaping of landscapes, and the rituals of sociability associated with these practices. While these intimate connections have waned, actual agricultural practices gradually merged with the early tourism industry in the manufacturing of the pastoral ideal, a powerful imaginary resulting from the first attempts to commodify rural space as an object of consumption. Although rural life has changed in myriad ways, the pastoral ideal lives on along with ideals about an independent rural lifestyle, where rural dwellers are seen as active forces in shaping the landscape, and where community sociability is not a thing of the past. All of this is maintained and reproduced in a variety of versions often marked by hybridity. The framing essay attends to the ways that such hybridities can be seen to problematise quality of life as something that is taken for granted. Instead, it asks the more basic question of what rural quality of life actually is for those who dwell in the countryside today.
Beyond the idyll in life within the gentrified countryside
Gentrification and well-being have emerged as major research foci, although have rarely been examined in relation to each other. Furthermore, in the few studies exploring gentrification and well-being, there has generally been little theoretical discussion of the latter, despite there being a growing range of conceptualisations of well-being. This chapter seeks to address these omissions, exploring how six different conceptual perspectives on well-being might connect to studies of gentrification in both urban and, more particularly, rural contexts. Economic, social, epidemiological/health, psychological, cultural and more-than-representational perspectives are discussed, with attention drawn to their intersection with gentrification studies making use of concepts of displacement, neighbourhood, psychological and health effects, social networks, therapeutic and scary places, affect and intra-action, as well as indices of well-being. The paper then explores well-being and rural gentrification through a study of three 'string-figures' drawn from a study of nine English villages. The first of these focuses on the claims of idyllic rural living, with attention being paid to more-than-representational arguments concerning instabilities in feelings of well-being. The second makes connections between changing feelings of well-being associated with conceptions of living within a village and changing participation of networks of neighbourhood sociability. A third explores accounts of the formation, improvement and loss of atmospheres that contribute to senses of well-being.