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Additional resources for Contested Countryside Cultures: Otherness, Marginalisation and Rurality

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Doel’s reaction to this state of constantly rewriting ‘the Other of the Same’ is to wonder about tactics which will enable academics to gain a better glimpse of ‘the Other of the Other’. 5 Doel discusses four different strategies that might be employed in this respect, each of which amounts less to a method of how to proceed and more to a ‘philosophical’ stance which can be taken before substantive materials, but the prevailing image that he conveys is one of ‘telephony’: of needing to wait for the call of ‘the Other’, and in the process inevitably awaiting calls from quite specific ‘others’ struggling to get by in their everyday lives.

More specifically, what Doel argues is that in many studies, and despite common protestations about wanting to get close to different people, places, practices at the same time as remaining open to new categories, connections, concepts, the result all too often fails to do more than simply reaffirm established modes of thought (more or less inadvertently obscuring differences by revisiting familiar terms, comparisons, theories). This is not just because it is difficult to conduct the innovative research projects that are needed in the field—although methodological issues should not be overlooked—but, and as Doel insists, it is because the very equipment for thought bequeathed to scholars in the West has an inherent ‘will’ to translate what might initially appear as somehow ‘the Other’ into the comforting vocabularies of what is tried and trusted as ‘the Same’.

This conception was cleverly translated into the social geography of individual Shaker communities, as organised around the so-called ‘families’ (sizeable collectives of men, women and children): Life in a Shaker village centred on the family. Each community consisted of two or three, and the larger ones had five or more…. Families were distinct entities akin to neighbourhoods and were located about a quarter to half-a-mile apart. Each family had its own dwelling house, workshop and barns. The central family was the Church Family (sometimes called the Centre Family).

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