Smokestack Nostalgia?: Understanding Work Heritage in an Age of Austerity

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Professor Tim Strangleman
University of Kent

4:00 PM | Tuesday, October 14
Maguire Hall | 3rd Floor Conference Room

This presentation will explore some of the critical discourse that has emerged from the process of deindustrialization, especially in recent photography books on industrial ruins in North America and Europe. What is the significance of this publishing trend? And what does it tell us about the wider meanings and values attached to work in the past and present? While it would be easy to dismiss this material as simply another manifestation of ‘smokestack nostalgia,’ Strangleman suggests that we need a more nuanced account that asks questions about the continuing desire to reflect back and find value in the industrial past.

Tim Strangleman has conducted research in a variety of industries, exploring work meaning and identity, deindustrialization, the experience of industrial change, and nostalgia. He has collaborated with a number of photographers, artists, and film makers and has written two books, Work and Society, with Tracey Warren, (Routledge, 2008) and Work Identity at the End of the Line? (Palgrave, 2004). In 2013, he co-edited with Sherry Linkon and James Rhodes a special issue of International Labor and Working Class History (ILWCH) on “Crumbling Cultures: Deindustrialization, Class and Memory.” He is currently writing two books, Imagining Work in the Twentieth Century: Guinness and the Transformation of Employment (Oxford) and Corroding Capital: Work, Place, Culture and the Meaning of Deindustrialisation (Cornell) with James Rhodes. He is President-Elect of the Working-Class Studies Association.