Prof Michael Woods

Prof Michael Woods

Personal Chair

Contact Details


Michael Woods joined Aberystwyth University as a Lecturer in Human Geography in 1996, having completed his first degree of the University of Wales, Lampeter, and his PhD at Bristol University, and was appointed as Professor of Human Geography in 2008. Between 2007 and 2013 he was Director of the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences. In 2014 he was appointed to a four-year post as Professor of Transformative Social Science, responsible for building capacity in social science research across the university.

Mike's research interests focus on rural geography and political geography. He is Co-Director of the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society / WISERD@Aberystwyth, an interdisciplinary research centre bringing together geographers, political scientists, historians and other researchers. He is also Aberystwyth Co-Director of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD), and Co-Director and Theme Leader for the ESRC WISERD/Civil Society Research Centre (2014-19). Mike holds a prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grant, GLOBAL-RURAL, which investigates globalization and rural areas (2014-19) and is Co-ordinator of the €5m IMAJINE project, funded by the European Union's Hoirzon 2020 programme to examine territorial inequalities and spatial justice (2017-2021).

Mike has held previous research grants from the ESRC, AHRC and EU Framework Programme 7, and was Co-Director of the Wales Rural Observatory, a collaborative centre with Cardiff University funded by the Welsh Government to undertake research to support rural development. He is Editor of the Journal of Rural Studies and Co-Editor of the Policy Press Book Series on Civil Society and Social Change.

Mike was elected as  Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2018 and as a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales in 2017.


Michael Woods's research interests address the broad fields of rural geography and sociology, political geography, economic geography and social geography, with a particular focus on the politics and dynamics of rural change. His current and recent research falls primarily into five main areas:

  1. The emergent 'global countryside' and the reconstitution of rural places under globalization
  2. The 'politics of the rural', rural policy and rural social movements
  3. Civil society, community governance and participation
  4. The social and economic restructuring of rural communities and regions
  5. Territorial inequalities and spatial justice

Current Research Projects

  • 'The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization (GLOBAL-RURAL)', European Research Council Advanced Grant, 2014-19 (PI, with Jesse Heley). Website:
  • 'Redefining Local Civil Society in an Age of Global Interconnectivity', 2016-18 (PI, with Jon Anderson), part of the ESRC WISERD/Civil Society Research Centre. Website:
  • 'Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe (IMAJINE)', European Union Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges (PI and Coordinator). Website:
  • 'Rural-Urban Outlooks: Unlocking Synergies (ROBUST)', European Union Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges (Co-I), Website:

Selected Previous Research Projects

  • 'Wales Rural Observatory', Welsh Government, 2003-2014
  • 'Developing Europe'


Re-imagining the Global VillageWoods, M. 2017 (Accepted/In press) Re-Imagining Rurality. Stringer, B. (ed.). Novoto, CA: ORO Editions, 10 p.
Rural Cosmopolitanism at the Frontier? Chinese Farmers and Community Relations in Northern Queensland, c 1890-1920Woods, M. 2017 In : Australian Geographer.
(Re)Assembling Neoliberal Logics in the Service of Climate Justice: Fuzziness and Perverse Consequences in the Fossil Fuel Divestment AssemblageMayes, R., Richards, C. & Woods, M. 2017 Assembling Neoliberalism: Expertise, Practices, Subjects. Higgins, V. & Larner, W. (eds.). Springer Nature, p. 131-149
Globalization and Rural AreasWoods, M. 2017 International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology. Richardson , D., Castree , N., Goodchild , M., Kobayashi , A., Liu, W. & Marston , D. (eds.). Wiley
International Migration, Agency, and Regional Development in Rural EuropeWoods, M. 2016 In : Documents d'Analisi Geografica.62, 3, p. 569-593
Confronting Globalisation? Rural Protests, Resistance and Social MovementsWoods, M. 2016 Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies. Shucksmith, M. & Brown, D. (eds.). Abingdon: Taylor & Francis, p. 626 - 638 (Routledge International Handbooks)
Explaining rural protest; A comparative analysisWoods, M. 2015 Rural Protest and Populist Political Parties. Voerman, G., Strijker, D. & Terluin, I. (eds.). Wageningen Academic Publishers
Rural Regions, Globalization and Regional Responses: The Case of Oberlausitz RegionNadler, R., Burdack, J. & Woods, M. 2015 Understanding Geographies of Polarization and Peripheralization: Perspectives from Central and Eastern Europe and Beyond. Lang, T., Henn, S., Sgibnev, W. & Ehrlich, K. (eds.). Springer Nature, p. 322-338
Unravelling the global wool assemblageHeley, J., Jones, L. & Woods, M. 2015
Territorialisation and the assemblage of rural place: Examples from Canada and New ZealandWoods, M. 2015 Cultural Sustainability and Regional Development: Theories and practices of territorialisation. Dessein, J., Battaglini, E. & Horlings, L. (eds.). Taylor & Francis, p. 29-42 (Routledge Studies in Culture and Sustainable Development)
Wales’ hidden globaleconomy: uncovering thetransnational networks of smalltown SMEsHeley, J., Woods, M., Jones, L., Welsh, M. & Onyeahialam, A. I. 2015
Everyday Globalization in a Small Rural TownWoods, M., Heley, J. & Jones, L. 2015
Globalization and Europe's Rural RegionsMcDonagh, J. (ed.), Nienaber, B. (ed.) & Woods, M. (ed.) 2015 Taylor & Francis. 240 p. (Perspectives on Rural Policy and Planning)
The LEADER Initiative has been a Victim of Its Own Success. The Decline of the Bottom-Up Approach in Rural Development Programmes. The Cases of Wales and AndalusiaNavarro, F. A., Woods, M. & Cejudo, E. 2015 In : Sociologia Ruralis.56, 2, p. 270-28819 p.
Creative ruralitiesWoods, M. 2015 (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of Arts and Communities.
Reconfiguring places: Wealth and the transformation of rural areasWoods, M. 2015 International Handbook of Wealth and the Super-Rich. Beaverstock , J. & Hay, I. (eds.). Edward Elgar Publishing, (Elgar Original Reference Series)
Political Geographies of ‘Food Security’ and ‘Food Sovereignty’Hopma, J. & Woods, M. 2014 In : Geography Compass.8, 11, p. 773-78412 p.
An Introduction to Political Geography: Space, Place and PoliticsJones, M., Jones, R., Woods, M., Whitehead, M., Dixon, D. & Hannah, M. 2014 2nd ed.Taylor & Francis. 276 p.
Wales & Recession: Rural communitiesHeley, J. & Woods, M. 2014
Family Farming in the Global CountrysideWoods, M. 2014 In : Anthropological Notebooks.20, 3, p. 31-48
Economic entanglements and the reshaping of place in the global countrysideWoods, M. 2013 Regional Resilience, Economy and Society: Globalising Rural Places. Tamásy, C. & Diez, J. R. (eds.). Taylor & Francis, p. 11-32 (The Dynamics of Economic Space)
The Role of Guanxi in Rural Social Movements: Two Case Studies from TaiwanWang, C-M. & Woods, M. 2013 In : Journal of Agrarian Change.13, 2, p. 197-21216 p.
Decoupling farm, farming and place: Recombinant attachments of globally engaged family farmersCheshire, L., Meurk, C. & Woods, M. 2013 In : Journal of Rural Studies.30, p. 64-7411 p.
The elite countryside: Shifting rural geographies of the transnational super-richWoods, M. 2013 Geographies of the Super-rich. Hay, I. M. (ed.). Edward Elgar Publishing, p. 123-13614 p.
Globally engaged farmers as transnational actors: Navigating the landscape of agri-food globalizationCheshire, L. & Woods, M. J. 2013 In : Geoforum.44, p. 232-24211 p.
Rhizomic radicalism and arborescent advocacy: A Deleuzo-Guattarian reading of rural protestWoods, M., Anderson, J., Guilbert, S. & Watkin, S. R. 2013 In : Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.31, 3, p. 434-450
Rich, Rural and Rooted? Neoliberalism, neopaternalism and the transnational rural geographies of the super-richWoods, M. 2013 Geographies of the Super-rich. Hay, I. (ed.). Edward Elgar Publishing
New localitiesJones, M. R. & Woods, M. J. 2013 In : Regional Studies.47 , 1, p. 29-4214 p.
Rural development, globalization and European regional policy: Perspectives from the DERREG projectWoods, M. 2013 In : Geographia Polonica.86, 2, p. 99-10911 p.
Regions engaging globalization: a typology of regional responses in rural EuropeWoods, M. 2013 In : Journal of Rural and Community Development.8, 3
New directions in rural studie?Woods, M. 2012 In : Journal of Rural Studies.28, 1, p. 1-44 p.
'The Country(side) is Angry': emotion and explanation in protest mobilizationWoods, M. J., Anderson, J., Guilbert, S. & Watkin, S. R. 2012 In : Social and Cultural Geography.13, 6, p. 567-58518 p.
Case Study Contextual Report 9: Alytus CountyJones, L., Woods, M. & Kairyte, E. 2012 DERREG.
Case Study Contextual Report 3: WesterkwartierJones, L., Woods, M., Roep, D. & Wellbrock, W. 2012 DERREG.
Globalization and Rural EuropeMcDonagh, J., Nienaber, B. & Woods, M. 2012 Globalization and Europe's Rural Regions. McDonagh, J., Nienaber, B. & Woods, M. (eds.). Taylor & Francis
Case Study Contextual Report 7: PomurskaJones, L., Woods, M., Lampic, B. & Mrak, I. 2012 DERREG.
RuralityWoods, M. 2012 Encyclopedia of Global Studies. Anheier, H. K. & Juergensmeyer, M. (eds.). SAGE Publications
Rural People and the LandWoods, M., Heley, J., Richards, C. & Watkin, S. R. 2012 Making Sense of Place: Multidisciplinary Perspectives . Convery, I., Corsane, G. & Davis, P. (eds.). Boydell & Brewer
Rural Futures and the Future of Rural GeographyWoods, M. 2012 In : Progress in Human Geography.36, 1, p. 125-134
DERREG: Developing Europe’s Rural Regions in the Era of GlobalizationJones, L. & Woods, M. 2012 DERREG.
Case Study Contextual Report 6: GoriskaJones, L., Woods, M. & Lampic, B. 2012 DERREG.
Case Study Contextual Report 5: SaarlandJones, L., Woods, M., Nienaber, B. & Frys, W. 2012 DERREG.
Case Study Contextual Report 10: Comarca de VerinJones, L., Woods, M. & Dominguez, L. 2012 DERREG.
Accelerated restructuring in rural China fueled by ‘increasing vs. decreasing balance’ land-use policy for dealing with hollowed villagesLong, H., Li, Y., Liu, Y., Woods, M. & Zou, J. 2012 In : Land Use Policy.29, 1, p. 11-2211 p.
Case Study Contextual Report 8: West Region of IrelandJones, L., Woods, M., Farrell, M., Mahon, M. & McDonagh, J. 2011 DERREG.
Performing Rurality and Practising Rural GeographyWoods, M. 2011 In : Progress in Human Geography.34, p. 835-84612 p.
Market Towns in Rural Wales: a differentiated geographyWoods, M. 2011 Rural Wales in the Twenty First Century - Society, Economy and Environment. Milbourne, P. (ed.). Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru | University of Wales Press
Poles Apart? Migrant Workers in Rural WalesWoods, M. 2011 Rural Wales in the Twenty-Frirst Century: Society, Economy and Environment. Milbourne, P. (ed.). Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru | University of Wales Press
Poles Apart?: Migrant workers and community in Rural WalesWoods, M. 2011 Rural Wales in the Twenty First Century: Society, Economy and Environment. Milbourne, P. (ed.). Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru | University of Wales Press
Voluntarism and new forms of governance in rural communitiesEdwards, B. & Woods, M. J. 2011 Landscapes of Voluntarism: New Spaces of Health, Welfare and Governance. Milligan, C. & Conradson, D. (eds.). Bristol: Policy Press, p. 53-7219 p.
The local politics of the global countryside: boosterism, aspirational ruralism and the contested reconstitution of Queenstown, New ZealandWoods, M. 2011 In : GeoJournal.76, 4, p. 365-38117 p.
Diving in again - a response to commentaries on 'Applied policy research and critical human geography: Some reflections on swimming in murky waters'Woods, M. 2011 In : Dialogues in Human Geography.1, 2, p. 242-2443 p.
DERREG: Project Periodic ReportWoods, M. & Jones, L. 2011 Framework Programme 7.
Case Study Contextual Report 1: Jihomoravsky krajWoods, M., Jones, L., Vaishar, A., Stastna, M., Trnka, P. & Mrazkova, H. 2011 European Commission. 26 p.
Case Study Contextual Report 2: Oevre NorrlandJones, L., Woods, M., Copus, A., Dubois, A. & Hedstrom, M. 2011 European Commission.
Winning and losing: The changing geography of Europe's rural areasWoods, M. 2011 In : European Urban and Regional Studies.13, 3, p. 282-2832 p.
Grounding global uncertainties and the relational politics of the ruralWoods, M. 2011 2011 Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington.
Rural Europe and the world: Globalization and rural development (Editorial)Woods, M. & Mcdonagh, J. 2011 In : European Countryside.3, 3
Contemporary Rural Geographies: Land, Property and Resources in Britain: Essays in Honour of Richard MuntonWoods, M. 2011 In : Journal of Rural Studies.27, 1, p. 105-1062 p.
Applied policy research and critical human geography: Some reflection on swimming in murky watersWoods, M. & Gardner, G. 2011 In : Dialogues in Human Geography.1, 2, p. 198-21417 p.
Rural Restructuring under Globalization in Eastern Coastal China: What can we learn from Wales?Long, H. & Woods, M. 2011 In : Journal of Rural and Community Development.6, 1, p. 70-9425 p.
Regions engaging globalization: a typology of regional responses in rural EuropeWoods, M. 2011 In : Regional Studies.
Case Study Contextual Report 4: Direktionsbezirk DresdenJones, L., Woods, M., Kriszan, M. & Krol, T. 2011 DERREG.
Policing Rural ProtestWoods, M. 2010 Rural Policing and Policing the Rural : A Constable Countryside?. Mawby, R. I. & Yarwood, R. (eds.). Taylor & Francis, p. 109-12113 p.
RuralWoods, M. 2010 Taylor & Francis. 352 p.
Reporting an Unsettled Countryside: The news media and rural protests in BritainWoods, M. 2010 In : Culture Unbound.12, p. 215-23925 p., 13
Rural Protests in Britain and the Enigmatic Significance of GlobalizationWoods, M. 2010 Globalization and Rural Transitions in Germany and the UK. Schmied, D. & Wilson, G. (eds.). Cuvillier, p. 167-17610 p. (Rural)
Representing Rural America: The Reconstruction of a Political SpaceWoods, M. 2010 Geographical Perspectives on Sustainable Rural Change. Winchell, D. G., Ramsay, D., Koster, R. & Robinson, G. M. (eds.). Rural Development Institute, p. 298-312
Rural geography: blurring boundaries and making connectionsWoods, M. 2009 In : Progress in Human Geography.33, 6, p. 849-85810 p.
Political economies of place in the emergent global countryside: Stories from Rural WalesWoods, M. 2009 The Next Rural Economies: Constructing Rural Place in a Global Economy. Halseth, G., Markey, S. & Bruce, D. (eds.). CABI Publishing, p. 166-17813 p.
Rural ProtestWoods, M. 2009 International Encylopedia of Human Geography, volume 8. Kitchin, R. & Thrift, N. (eds.). Elsevier, p. 474-4796 p.
Rural GeographyWoods, M. 2009 International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Kitchin, R. & Thrift, N. (eds.). Elsevier, Vol. 9, p. 429-44113 p.
Citizenship and Governmentality, RuralCheshire, L. & Woods, M. 2009 International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Kitchin, R. & Thrift, N. (eds.). Elsevier
DERREG: Literature Review and Conceptual FrameworkWoods, M. 2009
Exploring the uneven geographies of 'Rural Geography': Commentary on M. Kurtz and V. Craig, 'Constructing Rural Geographies in Practice'Woods, M. 2009 In : ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies.8, 2, p. 394-41320 p.
Partnerships in Rural Education: Identification of Research ThemesThomas, M., Brake, P., Cann, R., Evans, A. L. W., Hagen, G., Morgan, D. W., Neil, P., Pester, S., Woods, M., Jephcote, M. & Taylor, C. 2009 In : Welsh Journal of Education.14, 2, p. 144-1496 p.
Social movements and rural politicsWoods, M. 2008 In : Journal of Rural Studies.24, 2, p. 129-1379 p.
Central and Eastern European Migrant Workers in Rural WalesWatkin, S. R. & Woods, M. J. 2008 Wales Rural Observatory.
Policy engagement and critical rural geographiesWoods, M. & Gardner, G. 2008
Rural People and the Land: The Case for ConnectionsConvery, I., Dutson, T., Heley, J., Richards, R. G., Rogers, R., Storey, D., Watkin, S. R. & Woods, M. 2008 Commission for Rural Communities.
Beyond New Labour's countrysideWoods, M. J. 2008 New Labour's Countryside: Rural Policy in Britain since 1997. Woods, M. (ed.). p. 257-27620 p.
New Labour's Countryside: Rural Policy in Britain since 1997Woods, M. (ed.) 2008 Policy Press. 296 p.
Hunting: New Labour success or New Labour failure?Woods, M. 2008 New Labour's Countryside: Rural Policy in Britain since 1997. Woods, M. (ed.). p. 95-11420 p.
New Labour's CountrysideWoods, M. 2008 New Labour's Countryside: Rural Policy in Britain since 1997. Woods, M. (ed.). p. 3-2826 p.
Key concepts in urban studies By M Gottdiener and Leslie BuddWoods, M. 2007 In : Area.39, 2, p. 247-248
Redefining the 'rural question': The new 'politics of the rural' and social policyWoods, M. 2007 Challenging Welfare Issues in the Global Countryside: Broadening Perspectives in Social Policy. Giarchi, G. G. (ed.). Wiley, p. 1-17
Engaging the global countryside: globalization, hybridity and the reconstitution of rural placeWoods, M. 2007 In : Progress in Human Geography.31, 4, p. 485-50723 p.
Small and Market Towns in Rural Wales and their HinterlandsWoods, M. 2007 Wales Rural Observatory.
Attractive ruralities?: Re-thinking European peripheries in the global countrysideWoods, M. 2007 Ländliche Gesellschaft europäischer Peripherien: Rural Society of European Peripheries. Knappe, E., Müller, E., Lentz, S. & Wardenga, U. (eds.). Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde, p. 23-38
ForewordWoods, M. 2006 Living Together: Toward Inclusive Communities. Freeman, C. & Thompson-Fawcett, M. (eds.). Otago University Press, p. 7-12
Redefining the ‘Rural Question’: The New ‘Politics of the Rural’ and Social PolicyWoods, M. 2006 In : Social Policy and Administration.40, 6, p. 579-59517 p.
Leadership in place: elites, institutions and agency in British rural community governanceWoods, M. J., Edwards, B., Anderson, J. & Gardner, G. S. 2006 Rural Governance: International Perspectives. Cheshire, L., Higgins, V. & Lawrence, G. (eds.). Abingdon: Taylor & Francis, p. 211-22615 p. (Routledge Studies in Human Geography)
Rural politics and governanceWoods, M. 2006 A New Rural Agenda. Midgley, J. (ed.). Institute for Public Policy Research, p. 140-168
Political articulation: the modalities of new critical politics of rural citizenshipWoods, M. 2006 Handbook of Rural Studies. Cloke, P., Marsden, T. & Mooney, P. H. (eds.). SAGE Publications, p. 457-471
Research Study of the Quality Parish and Town Council SchemeWoods, M. J., Gardner, G. S. & Gannon, K. 2006 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 126 p.
Scoping study on Eastern and Central European migrant workers in rural WalesWalkley, C., Edwards, B., Woods, M. & Milbourne , P. 2006 Wales Rural Observatory.
New Geographies of CitizenshipDesforges, L. C., Jones, R. & Woods, M. 2005 In : Citizenship Studies.9, 5, p. 439-451
Contesting rurality: politics in the British countrysideWoods, M. 2005 Taylor & Francis.
Rural Geography: Processes, Responses and Experiences in Rural RestructuringWoods, M. 2004 SAGE Publications. 352 p.
Mobilising the local: Community, participation and governanceEdwards, B. & Woods, M. J. 2004 Geographies of Rural Cultures and Societies. Holloway, L. & Kneafsey, M. (eds.). Illustrated ed. Aldershot: Taylor & Francis, p. 173-19623 p.
An Introduction to Political Geography: Space, Place and PoliticsJones, M., Jones, R. & Woods, M. 2004 1st ed.Taylor & Francis. 208 p.
Deconstructing rural protest: the emergence of a new social movementWoods, M. 2003 In : Journal of Rural Studies.19, 3, p. 309-32517 p.
Research Study into the Role, Function and Future Potential of Community and Town Councils in WalesWoods, M. J., Edwards, B., Anderson, J., Gardner, G. S. & Hughes, R. 2003 Welsh Government.
Partnerships, power, and scale in rural governanceGoodwin, M. A., Edwards, B., Woods, M. & Pemberton, S. 2001 In : Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy.1, 2, p. 289-31022 p.