David Nettleingham is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Kent, UK. His research is informed by interests in the politics of memory and narrative, perceptions of class, generation and community, and oral historical methods. His writing has examined processes of deindustrialisation and industrial heritage production in areas where histories of largescale industrial production compete with other, often better-known, narratives and identities of place.
Beyond the Heartlands: Deindustrialization, Industrial Heritage and Narrative Enclosure
Beyond the Heartlands is a long-term project exploring the ways in which deindustrialization is experienced in areas that sit outside of what are often considered the traditional industrial ‘centres’ of the UK. I am interested in how deindustrialization becomes a process of reinscription and narrative enclosure – of landscapes, communities and legacies – across diverse geographies, and at an ever-increasing distance from closure. I draw on cases where narratives of industrial work, life and heritage are complicated by this displacement in time, place and discourse. This includes those that lack the political capital of an ‘industrial heartland’ identity, or of the struggles against mass industrial closure in the 1980s. Or, it can express the complex relationships and formations industrial work and heritage take on within urban, rural or coastal settings. I examine how industrial identities, heritage practices and the community memory of a place can be narrativized and naturalized (often literally in rural areas); selectively reworked for the needs of the hour, and how the meaning of what it was or is to be ‘industrial’ is altered in the process.