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This themed section of Australian Humanities Review seeks to establish the emerging field of 'rural cultural studies' firmly on the agenda of the contemporary humanities and social sciences. This is a timely intervention as rural Australia has featured increasingly over the last decade and especially over the last few years as a topic of national policy attention, public commentary and social analysis. If the notion of a crisis in rural Australia has become something of a one-sided cliché, the changes being faced in non-urban-rural, remote and regional-Australia are nonetheless significant, complex and widespread. For example, one of the topics for the federal 2020 Summit, 'Rural Australia', addressed future policy directions for rural industries and populations. In this wider context, the purpose of the present collection of papers is to argue for the significance of the cultural dimension-and the multiple dimensions of the cultural-in understanding the key issues of demographic change, economic productivity, environmental and climatic crisis, Indigenous/non-indigenous relations and land ownership, and the role of 'cultural' factors in the renewal, or potential renewal, of country towns and communities.