From Siberia (Russia), Anna Umantseva spent the last months in Moura, where she developed research work with the RurAction project, under the guidance of ADCMoura, one of the participating social enterprises.
“ My main academic interests include human migrations, disadvantaged regions and rural development, as well as gender issues. I have a bachelor’s degree in linguistic and translation from the State University of Tomsk, Russia, and a master’s degree in „intercultural mediation: Identities, mobilities, conflicts“ by KU Leuven. As part of the program, I have studied and carried out research on anthropology of migration, ethnic relations and minorities, as well as I spent a semester in Mexico, where I did field work for my thesis on diasporas and migrants from a gender perspective. After graduating, I completed an internship at the UN headquarters – United Nations organization in Vienna, working on the issues of migrant trafficking. Then, for three years, I worked as a research assistant at the agricultural research institution “ cimmyt „, in the surroundings of Mexico City, having participated in the project “ Gennovate “ on gender standards and social inclusion in rural areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America. The purpose of this project was to understand how social standards, including gender standards, affect the ability of men and women, living in rural regions, to adopt agricultural innovations and ensure food security. During this time, I was very interested in the subject of social dynamism in disadvantaged rural regions. Together with other fellow researchers of the project, I have contributed to the production of scientific articles for specialized magazines and in the development of manuals to facilitate the integration of gender issues in the work of agricultural experts. Having worked in a research institution for development, I have come to value much more the fusion between theory and practice, and in that sense, I think the RurAction project is an excellent opportunity to develop collaborative partnerships between researchers and technicians operating in the rural world.
My research project is entitled „Participation of Rural Communities in Social Ventures: Involvement and Empowerment of Local Stakeholders“.
Reportedly, the populations of rural regions reveal reservations about innovation due to a „traditional mindset“ that tends to preserve existing assets. Following this finding, the social innovations that by definition create news would be an increased challenge in rural regions. Therefore, social entrepreneurs who want to create innovative solutions for regional development would have to make additional efforts to convince residents of the need for change and encourage them to be innovative, otherwise they would not be socially accepted.
My research aims to understand how social entrepreneurs seek to generate creativity in rural regions, how they involve and empower residents, what forms of participation they develop and which ones favour and / or make it difficult to participate. In addition, there will be the question of what kind of innovation is generated in rural regions, to what extent social innovations refer partially to traditional elements, although combining them in a new way. During the research, participating comments and quality interviews were made to experts and actors involved in the regions under study of the ruraction project: Uckermark (Germany), Mühlviertel (Austria), Phthiotis (Greece) and Lower Alentejo (Portugal).
Thanks to ADC Moura for the interview and the picture!