Deindustrialisation and Reinventions NUBS 3.07
Jul 06, 2023 09:00 - 10:30(Europe/London)
20230706T0900 20230706T1030 Europe/London 5.17. Deindustrialization and Memory II: Reconstructions and Landscapes


NUBS 3.07 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
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Ec(h)omemories: French Fiction and Nonfiction of Waterscapes (Kerangal-Sorman’s Seyvoz, Taillandier’s Delta)
Individual paperDeindustrialisation and Reinventions 09:00 AM - 10:30 AM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 08:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 09:30:00 UTC
Maylis de Kerangal and Joy Sorman's fiction Seyvoz and Fanny Taillandier's nonfiction Delta (the third installment of the Empire Series), both published in France in 2022, investigate the transformation of natural landscapes and habitats by industrialization and engineering. Bordering on the fantastic, Seyvoz weaves two alternating narratives: a third person narrative, printed in black, focuses on the attempts by a young Paris-set engineer to inquiry into a hydraulic plant and dam that resist his grasp and knowledge; the other, printed in blue and working as time capsules and echoes of mourning minds or resistant bodies, narrates in the first person the mental and emotional states of Seyvoz's villagers and the alterations of the village preceding the drowning of their habitat. Through mapping and perambulations (as arpentages) as well as a self-reflexive cultural critique, Delta combines, on the one hand, a historical approach to the engineering and industrialization (the crafting of harbors and equipment for chemical plants and oil refineries) of the Camargue delta (also shaped over centuries by the strong Mistral wind and the Rhône river's encounters with the Mediterranean coast and sea currents), and, on the other hand, an immersion into the fauna and flora of the Camargue as well as encounters with its French inhabitants, including Sinti and Roma gypsies. Both works articulate aesthetic and ethical responses to the processes of industrialization and the changes the latter brought to the choreography of human lives and nonhuman ecosystems. In my paper, I will offer a reading of the critical and creative role of the history and memory of (internal) colonization by the three women writers, whose works craft verbal, amphibious, and littoral museums countering linear narratives of industrialization and nation-formation in post-industrial France.

Catherine Nesci
Professor Of Comparative Literature And French Studies, University Of California, Santa Barbara
Community and Industrial Rhythms in a Cornish Fishing Town
Individual paperDeindustrialisation and Reinventions 09:00 AM - 10:30 AM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 08:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 09:30:00 UTC
In the heart of the fishing town of Newlyn, Cornwall, stands a small granite building. Once a boathouse, then a post office, it has been transformed by volunteers into a historical archive for the local community. The building is full of clippings, letters, photographs, and memoirs, but 200 or so large leather-bound books occupy its central space. These are known as the Harbour Logs. Written from the late 19th century to the late 20th, they record the coming-and-going of boats, the town's imports and exports, cash flows, and important harbour events.
As I stand in the Archive with one of the volunteers, we chat about the Logs. "They are Newlyn", he asserts, pulling a book covering 1932-33 off its shelf, spreading it open on the counter, and starting to explain:
"Looking down the pilchards [sardines]... yes... it was during the month of September that they were catching the most. You get a picture if you compare that money coming in for pilchards with the notes on daily arrivals. You'll find that perhaps some of the boats had been out there for days before they came in with their catch. And then you look at the trading that went on with bigger ships [...] and there would be [...] boats taking the pilchards to Italy, there would be the list of the quarry boats taking the stone and so on."
On other occasions, I have witnessed people study these books to see when a friend went fishing, or a grandfather provided new sails to traditional vessels. With their detailed listing of daily activities, the Logs provide a physical record of the historical rhythms of the town's harbour – a sort of industrial electrocardiogram.
I propose a paper based on ethnography I am currently conducting in Cornwall, examining the significance of these books to those who explore them. The paper argues that the records are used to reanimate the community's past as people look through them together, often concocting elaborate historical fictions. More than this, the materiality of the Logs themselves is now central to work for the community's future as debates have arisen concerning the protection of the books from flooding caused by rising sea levels. In these discussions, an indexed and knowable past is contrasted with a future of looming threat. In a place where any potential collapse of fishing is envisaged as constituting the death of the town, it makes sense that safeguarding these logs is thought of in terms of care for Newlyn itself.
More broadly, this talk will link senses of community and place with industrial rhythms, decline, and change in contemporary Britain. Through the prism of the Harbour Logs, I will present images – held by many of my interlocutors – of a historically animated community, full of movement and adventure, seen as threatened by changes in fishing, climate, and the rise in second-home ownership in the town.
Christie Van Tinteren
PhD Student, University Of Cambridge
Imagined communities and the (re)invention of a shared industrial heritage through nostalgia at Beamish Museum
Individual paperDeindustrialisation and Reinventions 09:00 AM - 10:30 AM (Europe/London) 2023/07/06 08:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 09:30:00 UTC
The vision for Beamish Museum originated in the 1950s, with first Director Frank Atkinson determined to preserve what he saw as a 'rapidly disappearing' industrial way of life through the creation of an open-air, living museum. Through an approach of 'unselective collecting', he collected industrial, social and domestic objects, stories and buildings relating to the lives of the people who worked in industries across the North East– he believed the communities who served these industries were disappearing alongside the industries themselves. Beginning in 1970 with Frank and three members of curatorial staff, the museum has developed a collection of over two million objects, as well as growing to have roughly 350 staff and 450 volunteers. Alongside its original time periods of 1825 and 1913, the museum has recently added 1940s and 1950s areas on site, bringing Beamish forward once again into displaying exhibits within living memory of its visitors.
Combining theory and practice-based research, this paper uses Beamish as a case study to examine communities' relationship with post-industrial heritage in the North East of England. It begins by exploring the reciprocal relationship between Beamish and the people of the North East, and how living history museums such as Beamish use memory to foster nostalgia, identity and a sense of belonging to an often imagined past. It continues by examining how the inclusion of historical areas within living memory shape and are shaped by visitors' interpretations and memories of the 'history' on display, and how these memories are communicated with younger audiences, often being reshaped in the process.
It concludes by interrogating the role open-air museums play in shaping contemporary narratives and anxieties through collective memory and reinvention, who is excluded in these narratives of memory, and how we might decolonise the heritage being presented to foster a more representative and global story of the past.
Presenters Natasha Anson
PhD Student, Durham University
Good old railways? An oral history of the railway workers in Poland
Individual paperDeindustrialisation and Reinventions 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
The paper presents the complexity of railway and railway workers' public and professional memory in Poland. Polish State Railways (Polskie Koleje Państwowe, PKP) were, from the late 50s to the late 80s, the largest single company in communist Poland regarding the number of employees. Although the PKP were often criticised for its low efficiency, the economy and transport depended heavily on it. Only after the post-1989 transformation did the railway company rapidly decline in importance and go through the painful process of "commercialisation" and fragmentation. 
In my talk, I face the question of the reason for the discrepancy between the narrative of the memory community of former railway staff and the general audience. My interviewees (I conducted more than 40 interviews with workers of different ranks and branches on the railway) and some published memories express a presumption that the previous railway used to work much better and more "true" than after its "commercialisation". That may have something to do with the "smokestack nostalgia", as British sociologist Tim Strangleman called it: a longing for permanence at work in the industrial era, the mechanic and not the digital world. In that context, my paper confronts popular memory cliches about the PKP with various positive memories, as noticeable in my oral history research with former PKP employees.
Nevertheless, I argue that nostalgia, often in its reflective than simply restorative form, does not explain everything. The insider's perspective presented in the interviews gives plenty of insights into actual operational strategies and tactics (to use the terms of Michel de Certeau) that were functional in running the railway in communist Poland but lost their sense since the 1990s. The personal and communicative memory of the railway workers reveals that in an economy of shortages, an individual agency of an employee (legal or illegal) plays a far more significant role, even despite its relatively low efficiency. In my paper's conclusion, I argue that a Polish case, regardless of its (post-)communist political context, represents a process that may be observed far beyond the former Eastern Bloc. I also put a broader question about the methods of researching the memory of deindustrialisation and the transformation of the industrial labour culture.
Presenters Marcin Jarząbek
Doctor / Assistant Professor, Jagiellonian University In Cracow
Memories and Interpretations of the Chinese Eastern Railway Heritage in Harbin
Individual paperDeindustrialisation and Reinventions 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/05 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/06 22:00:00 UTC
Under the terms of the 1896 Li–Lobanov Treaty and the 1898 Pavlov Agreement, tsarist Russia was allowed to build the Chinese Eastern Railway (CER) and its southern extension in the north-eastern area of Qing China. A 'CER Zone' was in turn created around the junction of the two railways. It accommodated the Russian administration of the railways and was under extraterritorial jurisdiction, thus effectively acting as a Russian colony. This zone soon developed into the metropolis of Harbin. The Russian colonial rule ceased in the 1920s, but many of its CER-related buildings and structures still exist in Harbin today--most of them are in exotic and aesthetic European or modernist styles. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, Harbin was a most important national industrial hub for decades. When the Soviet Union transferred its core technologies to the PRC through the international industrial assistance programme '156 Key Projects' in the 1950s, Harbin received 13 Key Projects--the highest proportion among China's large cities. For a long time, Harbin downplayed and marginalised its CER-Zone past and its historical remains relating to the CER. However, the situation changed in the 1990s, as Harbin experienced radical deindustrialisation and impoverishment due to the nationwide economic reform. To sustain Harbin's economy and society, the local government started to re-value the city's exotic and aesthetic Russian-era remains as heritage, and to re-remember the city's 'glorious' CER-Zone past. This was not only to construct a new collective identity for its citizens, who suddenly lost their pride in the seemingly incomprehensible deindustrialisation process, but also to comfort people amid the painful reality. Over twenty years have passed, and Harbin gradually recovered both economically and socially. It is notable that, in recent years, the CER heritage is increasingly interpreted as industrial heritage rather than colonial heritage or the once highlighted 'European-style heritage'. Using archival analysis, observation, and semi-structured interviews, this paper investigates how the memories and interpretations of the CER heritage changed over time in Harbin, and why. It is concluded that the changing heritage interpretations reflect the changing social and economic needs of this post-colonial and post-industrial city. The public memory can be reconstructed to adjust to the shifted collective imagination of the city's future.
Presenters Wenzhuo Zhang
Centre For Heritage And Museum Studies, Australian National University
doctor / Assistant professor
Jagiellonian University in Cracow
Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies, Australian National University
PhD Student
Durham University
PhD Student
University of Cambridge
Professor of Comparative Literature and French Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
 Joanna Wawrzyniak
Associate Profesor
University of Warsaw
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