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CfP: Narratives, Discourses and Representation of Deindustrialization from a Comparative Perspective

CfP: Narratives, Discourses and Representation of Deindustrialization from a Comparative Perspective

St. Anthony steel works, 1835.

Edited by: Irene Díaz (University of Oviedo) and Natalie Braber (Nottingham Trent University) from WG1 (Transformation of Work) of the Slow Memory Cost Action.

Deindustrialisation processes represent a traumatic change for the societies that experience them. The cracking of what were presumed to be well-rooted economic foundations is accompanied by profound social and cultural transformations in which the past, often idealised, collides with a present and future fraught with uncertainty. Assuming that, as Marx wrote ‘all that is solid melts into air’ (Manifiesto of Communist Party, 1848) has forced communities, regions or countries affected by such transformations to confront the recomposition of their social, labour and productive structures.

In this context, the legacies of memories and cultures of work, the identity traits that were forged around them as well as the material remains have been subjected to profound tensions that show a complex relationship between past, present and future, but which, nevertheless, can act as heritage and identity elements capable of acquiring new meanings and acting as collective referents. 

Starting from the premise ‘slow down and take time to remember well’, which underpins the concept of Slow Memory, we ask ourselves how deindustrialisation is remembered and represented. We question which narratives, discourses and representations have been made of this process, by inviting papers with a comparative and transnational perspective, with the aim of investigating whether one of the potentialities of Slow Memory may lie in the mobilisation of the resources of the past to face the future, situating oral memory and cultural creation about deindustrialisation as objects of analysis.

Proposals are invited on the following themes or topics

  • Discourses and controversies regarding deindustrialisation and its representation
  • Artistic and media (re-)presentations of (de)industrialisation
  • Workers’ identities and working-class culture between the industrial past and the post-industrial present
  • Industrial heritage and the memory culture

Thus we want to find out:  

  • How is deindustrialisation being narrated? What memory remains of the industrial past and what interpretations are made of its disappearance?   
  • What do oral testimonies tell us and how do they tell us? How is trauma managed, how do we deal with change and interpret the past and the present?   
  • Which narratives have communities constructed around this process? What are the most common preconceived ideas, mythicisations around deindustrialisation process and its management? 
  • What remains in terms of cultural creation: what literature, music, cinema, visual arts are made with the working-class, industrial or mining past as a reference?   
  • To what extent does this past act as a source of inspiration and as a stimulus for creation? Does art help to understand the process and to mourn, and does it provide tools for the future?

Papers  can be single-authored or collaborative between members of working groups as well as between different working groups. We will be looking to submit a proposal to put together a special issue with a high-impact factor journal. Priority will be given to members of the Slow Memory project, but if necessary, a wider call will be sent out.

Please send a title and brief abstract (350 words) plus a brief CV to Irene Díaz:  and Natalie Braber:  by 20 January, 2024.

We will be looking for 1st drafts of articles (around 7,000 words) to be produced by June 2024. This will be followed by online workshops to review and revise articles in September 2024 and final drafts to be produced by December 2024.

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