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Accepted Paper:

Scrutinising entanglements between heritage and decarbonisation: emotion and infrastructure change in an industrial town  
Karen Henwood (Cardiff University) Gareth Thomas (Cardiff University) Nicholas Pidgeon (Cardiff University) Harriet Smith (Cardiff University)

Paper short abstract:

Aiming to scrutinise entanglements and (re)evaluations of infrastructure change, heritage and (re)industrialisation, a study of an industrial town in South Wales, UK explores situated experiences of industrial dependence and decline and how residents made sense of visions for the town’s future.

Paper long abstract:

As the UK and other late-capitalist economies embark on decarbonisation, industrial towns and regions are coming into view as objects of academic study and policy discourse. Particularly noteworthy (if not yet very common) are ethnographically inspired, psychosocial studies drawing on forms of understanding and modalities of engagement elucidating how former industrial and mining communities have experienced significant socio-cultural transformations. While planning and policy processes prioritise economic development, this research establishes how industrial development and retrenchment are transformative not only economically but also in terms of affective, cultural and emotional relationships to place. Taking account of more generic investigations into public perceptions of the “greening” of industrial and energy system decarbonisation in place, our presentation reports on a set of biographical interviews and deliberative workshops conducted in Port Talbot, South Wales exploring how situated experiences of industrial dependence and decline shaped how Port Talbot residents made sense of visions for the town’s future. In the face of industrial decline, alternative aspects of place emerged as locus points of emotional and cultural identification, ‘public things’ (Honig, 2017) in which alternative hopes for the future are invested. As emergent policies for clean growth (including eco-tourism) become enacted in concrete projects, we argue for keeping a clearer focus on experiences of and relationships embedded in industrial places as an antidote to abstract, polarising discussions of environmental crises, industrial ruination, and future’s indeterminacy. Our research trajectory involves further scrutinising entanglements and (re)evaluations of infrastructure change, heritage and (re)industrialisation by addressing frictions created by contrasting temporalities.

Panel P061b
(Un-)wanted Alternatives? Negotiating Heritage in Postindustrial Environments II
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -