Between nationalism and "creative minds": the multiple pasts of Margate, in England
Ana Carolina Balthazar (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio))
Paper short abstract:
Based on long term ethnographic research, this paper analyses the two different constructions of time that emerge and collide among the practices to "regenerate" Margate, in England: the past as a marketable tool to attract tourists or as connected to nationalistic memories and local routines.
Paper long abstract:
Based on long term ethnographic research in Margate, a economically "deprived" seaside town in the southeast of England, this paper analyses some retired resident's reactions towards the reopening of the local traditional amusement park, Dreamland, in 2015. With a call for "creative minds", a local voluntary organisation supported by marketing strategists championed the legal battle to refurbish and reopen the park. However, some locals who are aged 60 and over soon became skeptical of the project. While following the different events and plans to refurbish and reopen the park we can see the gradual separation between a class of artists who had recently moved to the area and intended to promote a park inspired by the past to change the future of the town, and an older community that resists practices "made for other people" and who often commit to nationalistic discourses. Slowly, two different constructions and perceptions of time emerge and collide among the practices to "regenerate" the seaside town: one recasts the past as a marketable tool that fits advertising narratives and an annual calendar of events to attract international tourists; while the other envisages the past as directly connected to national narratives and personal memories experienced in people's daily routines. What the artists seem to fail to grasp is that introducing novel practices and a calendar could affect the very ways in which the retired community belong to place and experience the past everywhere - in the objects, in the houses, and around the town.
Time and tradition: theorising the temporalities in and of cultural production