Rural villages are often portrayed as problem-free, idyllic environments characterized by neighbourliness and cultural homogeneity. Drawing upon the growing body of research into issues of rural racism, this article challenges these prevailing notions by highlighting some of the problems associated with the increasing ethnic diversity of rural populations. The article begins by addressing the symbolic importance given to the English countryside by many of its white inhabitants, and assesses how this is related to romanticized feelings of national identity, `localism' and narrow invocations of village `communities'. It is argued that village space is not neutral but is instead racialized and contested, and that it is feelings of insecurity among white rural populations, exacerbated by the presence of a markedly different `other', that results in the marginalization of minority ethnic groups from mainstream community activities. It is also suggested that these groups are often subjected to racist victimization, which can go unrecognized by local agencies. This clearly has implications for policing diversity in the rural, and the article explores ways in which the public police (and other rural agencies) could begin to develop a more nuanced understanding of the diversification of rural space and the `othering' of outsider populations
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