Econ01


Remembering the factory: industrial pasts and presents 
Convenors:
Reana Senjković Svrčić (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research)
Andrew Hodges
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Stream:
Economy and Work
Location:
Aula 2
Sessions:
Wednesday 17 April, 9:00-10:45, 11:15-13:00 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

This panel will examine memories and contemporary reflections on deindustrialization and the proliferation of economic insecurity. The primary ethnographic focus is on memory practices and contemporary experiences relating to objects of industrial decline.

Long Abstract

This panel will examine memories of work and contemporary reflections on deindustrialization and the proliferation of economic insecurity. Memoryscapes that articulated a longing for a sense of purpose have been reflected on from late 1980s onwards. A significant number of these memories relate to factories that not only provided jobs, but also a sense of security and communality that in some cases extended over generations. What we are witnessing lately are changes caused, presumably, by a certain transformation in memory work, alongside the successful commodification of memories and their use for political purposes. On the other hand, these changes are the result of clash between available and often sharply contradicting competing versions of history that made certain communities even more vulnerable after the 2008 economic crisis. The narrative of a proud worker and the factory (s)he understood in familial terms is being either refined, reshaped, or abandoned, giving way to emerging new personal and communal identities.

The primary interest of this panel is in ethnographic and strongly contextualized research on memory practices and contemporary experiences relating to objects of industrial decline, such as factories, collieries and shipyards.

The organization of this panel has been funded by the projects TRANSWORK (HRZZ, IP-2016-06-7388) and "Transformation from Below" (DFG)

Accepted papers:

Author:

João Santos (NOVA-FCSH)

Paper short abstract:

Between the 60's and the 90's, the Lisnave and Setenave shipyards were a symbol of industrialization in Portugal. Based on the life histories of this workers we intend to analyze the passage from a workers culture based on solidarity to an individualist culture that is fruit of de-industrialization.

Paper long abstract:

In the 1960's, Portugal suffered a deep restructuring of its economic tissue after an acceleration of the process of industrialization in what became known as the golden cycle of portuguese industry. This late industrialization makes Portugal one of the countries ruled by a peripheric Fordism, which will be particularly relevant in the region of Setúbal. Several heavy industry companies will settle there, amongst which Setenave and Lisnave are two of the most relevant. On the one hand, as signifiers of the history of industrialization in Portugal and on the other hand, as touchstones of the workers' movement. These shipyards are described by workers as being "a city within the city" given their dimension and labour contingent; indeed, this industrial "city" is more than a place of economic production, being also a place for sociability. In both shipyards the workers shared an idea of reproductive space. Yet this did not strip the shipyards of its features of economic exploitation, much like a factory. The material conditions of labour and the discipline of technical subordination directly affect "all sensing organs", as noted by Marx. Based on the recovery of the life histories of this workers - by valuing the importance of their memory, as well as the meaning they attribute to the changes experienced between the 1970s and the deindustrialization period of the 1980s, we intend to analyze how it happened inside the shipyards the transition from a working culture based on solidarity to a culture dominated by competition and individualism.

Author:

Tanja Petrovic (ZRC SAZU)

Paper short abstract:

The paper sheds light on memories of fish-canning industry in North-eastern Adriatic in the second part of the 20th century. It highlights strong social-structuring function of these factories and the capacity of memories related to fish-canning to question dominant tourism-oriented ideology.

Paper long abstract:

Based on ethnographic work and interviews with former workers employed in fish-canning factories in Banjole (near Pula) and insular towns of Cres and Mali Lošinj (Croatia), this paper sheds light on memories of labor in fish-canning industry in the second part of the 20th century. It seeks to highlight the ways in which these memories complicate and challenge prevalent views of fish-canning industry as "primitive", unwanted, "stinky", marginal, and strongly un-preferred in comparison with another source of income - tourism. Looking at both personal memories and public memorizations of labor in the fish canning factories, the paper argues that these factories did not only provide workers with an income, but created a framework for a meaningful social and community life. It looks at the ways the memories and narratives of work in the fish-canning industry, as well as practices of memorization and heritage-making related to this industry engage with the current social and economic conditions, in which tourism is privileged over any other economic activity, and the maritime industry is globalized and detached from the ecosystem in which humans, the fish and the sea are closely interconnected.

Authors:

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).

Author:

Andrea Matosevic (Juraj Dobrila University of Pula)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will analyse three movies filmed in 1972 and 2000 in Pula's Uljanik shipyard: Kolos s Jadrana, Berge Istra and Godine hrđe that are among the most significant documentaries produced on one Croatia's shipyard.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will analyse three movies filmed in 1972 and 2000 in Pula's Uljanik shipyard: Kolos s Jadrana, Berge Istra and Godine hrđe that are among the most significant documentaries produced on one Croatia's shipyard. The theme of Kolos s Jadrana and Berge Istra is baptizing, launching and welding of stern and thrust of Berge Istra, the largest and most complex ship ever built in one of Adriatic shipyard in those years. Such technical and business success conditioned inattention to workers everyday life and neglecting to show the problems that were present during its construction. Their content is almost completely, with few significant opposite examples, dedicated to an ideal representation. A completely different situation is shown in Godine hrđe documentary, filmed in 2000. There the difficult everyday life of Uljanik cooperate workers is shown and representation has almost completely amputated the mention of an object, a ship whose successful dipping had to make its constructors complacent individuals. With awareness of Uljanik's serious current issues in production I will interpret these documentaries as highly significant traces in shipyards "public history" and its memory.

Author:

Iringo Toth Godri (Babes-Bolyai University / Filmtett)

Paper short abstract:

My research concerns about the everyday life of the factory workers from Cluj-Napoca between 1946 and 1989 by studying photos from the local press. By these photos I try to explore and to show a world behind the economical facts, the everyday life behind the Five Year Plans.

Paper long abstract:

In the long period of the Romanian socialism and the communism, between 1946 and 1989, the most important element of the economics was the forced industrialization. Thousands of factories, manufactories were established, mines, forges, agricultural cooperative were opened. The industrialization had also an important social impact, a new social "class" was born: the urban workers.

Nowadays researchers have got few sources referring to this topic: documents from the national archives which often are not yet available, oral-history sources and the press. In my research I try to explore the everyday life of the workers from Cluj-Napoca by studying the photos from the local press of the era.

In Cluj-Napoca, the factories like Carbochim, Tehnofrig, Clujana provided work for tens of thousands, for whom from the 50s many housing estates were built (Marasti, Gheorgheni, Grigorescu). In the local press products there are a lot of articles about the constructions, about the working conditions, about the tournaments between factories. There are special examples, like the Dolgozó Nő, a female magazine which focuses on the women's role in the factories.

Researchers are very lucky in Cluj-Napoca, because there exist some organized photo archives in the city, like for the newspapers Făclia and Igazság.

Of course, these photos are often manipulated, propagandistic. Usually this propagandistic factor is a plus for the researcher, different interpretations are possible. I try to show this unique and interesting world, the different viewpoints and perspectives. I show a world behind the economical facts, the everyday life behind the Five Year Plans.

Author:

Xiao Luo (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines what happens to workers after the bankruptcy of the state-owned factory in a textile town in Xi'an, China. It shows how workers use the strategies to reproduce the social space when they working in the new workplace, with the practice for negotiation, adaption, and reciprocity.

Paper long abstract:

After the reform of state-owned enterprise in the late 20th century in China, lots of workers were laid-off as the factories had been closed down due to bankruptcy. The workers in a textile town in Xi'an did not escape from the fate of being laid off since 2008. But life did not stop at that moment. Life has to move on. Based on the one-year fieldwork, I observed that although these workers are no longer working in the factory, their working and living space is not disintegrated nor separated by an obvious barrier from the previous memory and working experience; rather, it becomes more various and complex by means of that the structure of the space is reconfigured and extended. Specifically, since the bankruptcy, workers have found other jobs in different places, which extend their original space of daily life and social activities. It is not just a simple movement, because it changes the workplaces, tasks and responsibilities, and more importantly, it cultivates the workers' self-consciousness of cultural reproduction. Moving to a new workplace is a kind of spatial extension, which shows not only the extension of physical work surroundings, the way and time of commuting and the various people and difficulties they have to deal with, but also the extension of their strategies such as negotiation, adaption and reciprocity to strengthen their sense of security and dignity. Such strategies intertwine with the memory, habitus and social networks that formed from previous experience in the factory.

Author:

Petar Bagarić (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research)

Paper short abstract:

There are two notions of loafing. One notion is aimed towards the ennobling of everyday life, and the other, characteristic of the members of the working class, is primarily the means of protection of one's life when faced with the harsh working conditions.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will discuss two notions of loafing. The first notion of loafing, characteristic of the middle class, is aimed towards the ennobling of everyday life, while the other, more characteristic of the working class, is primarily the means of protection of one's life faced with harsh working conditions.

Together with the disappearance of the working class, the ideology of work-as-necessity withdrew as well, and especially since it faced the upcoming concept of work-as-game. "Gamification" of work is part of the process which blurs boundaries between life and work, and reduces the capacity of perceiving the true nature of life/work dynamics in postindustrial society. I argue that, due to the fact that the individual control over existence and working conditions in postindustrial society is reduced, loafing which is needed is not one of sublime ennoblement but of basic survival.

Author:

Cecília Sándor (Corvinus University of Budapest)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation is about the history of an industrial factory in a Szekler Community, Transylvania. It will examine the transforming local economy, the working class identities and the social, national political significance of a local manufacturing revitalisation.

Paper long abstract:

My topic is based on field research, on communication with the members of society and on private photo documentation in Transylvanian village, in Csíkszentismon. A brand new beer brewery had been built in year 2014 in middle of Romania, in Hargita county in the village of Csíkszentsimon. It is very important that the Csíki Sör Manufactory is located on the site of the former alcohol-gluten-beer factory of Csíkszentsimon which was built by the Hungarian Government in 1942 primarily with the aim to selling the potatoes (as starch and glucose) cultivated in the Csíki Region. It is significant that both the production and the characteristic and communication of the product made in the local manufacture is adjusted to the Szekler ethnical group, it stresses certain characteristics in the name of the local tradition, which in the same way as a symbol system from the past, draws on the remembrance of the cultural heritage. Sithence the collapse of the communist system left behind a general insecurity (factory collapse, unemployment, hopelessness) and in this anxiety the tool expressing a personal cultural identity and persistency, and the national idea associated with it, as a collective integration creates a new hope. From the interview conversations that conclusion can be drawn, that the Csíki Beer is an economic and cultural element/possibility of the search for security mentally and economically and of the strengthening identity-wise.