Accepted Paper:

The factory-town without the factory: the weight of memory for old industrial sites, the case of Bata.  


Milan Balaban (Tomas Bata University in Zlin)
Simon Edelblutte (LOTERR - Centre de Recherches en Géographie, Université de Lorraine)
Antoine Brichler (Université de Lorraine)

Paper short abstract:

The Baťa Company built dozens of factory towns around the globe, which were left without their primary function after production ended. The aim of our paper is to present the situation in different Baťa towns (batavilles) and to analyse what happened in them after the factories ceased to operate.

Paper long abstract:

The Baťa Company evolved from a small shoe workshop at end of the 19th century in Zlín, today's Czech Republic, and became one of the biggest shoe producers in the whole world in the 20th century. At the beginning of the 1930s, with the Great Depression and increasing protectionist measures, the Baťa Company also began with the establishment of sister companies abroad and factories in different countries such as France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, USA, Canada, India, etc. The company developed a comprehensive social and territorial system, involving the foundation of company towns with a specific paternalist philosophy. In these company towns, workers and their families were provided with an extensive variety of services, from advanced housing to medical, educational, sport and social activities.

With the onset of globalisation and de-industrialisation, the Baťa Company closed most of its factories in the Western world, which left behind the old factories themselves as well as all the territorial and social elements of the former paternalist system. These company towns remained without their primary function and production. Our paper aims to answer a number of questions: What happens within a territory marked by industry when the factory closes? How is the territory transformed? How do the actors within the territory react? How can their identity be affected by these upheavals? What spatial behaviour is then at work? We wish to present the situation in the former factory towns of Bataville (France) East Tilbury (England) and Mohlin (Switzerland).

Panel Econ01
Remembering the factory: industrial pasts and presents