Affective and creative resistances and solidarities
This online seminar has been organised by the Cities, Environment and Liveability (CEL) Pathway and the Urban Studies and Planning Department, University. This seminar is open to ESRC and non-ESRC funded PhD and MA Social Research students within the seven interdisciplinary Pathways across the WRDTP partner universities.
Part of ‘Feeling Class: Emotions, Bodies and the Affective Politics of Social Inequality’ seminar series
This weekly seminar series brings together thirteen scholars from Sociology, Geography, History, Urban Studies, Criminology and Literary Studies to discuss the emotional, embodied and affective dynamics of social class. For the first three weeks four speakers will share research on topics including stigmatisation, migration, place, housing, solidarity and love. The series ends with a keynote lecture from Professor Anoop Nayak.
For further information on this seminar series please contact Jay Emery (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Week 1 speakers
Ceri Morgan (Keele): ‘Stepping In/Through Time, Seaming Stories’
This performative paper showcases work based on memories of mining in the South Wales and Stoke regions. In 2016, I led a geopoetics (site-responsive creative practices) walking workshop in Silverdale Country Park, site of a former coal-mine, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan Disaster (my aunt, Mair Morgan, is a survivor). The workshop was attended by a mix of undergraduate and postgraduate students, local parish councillors, an archivist, and a former miner and his wife. I carried out informal interviews as we walked around the site. Many participants produced creative pieces prompted by the workshop, including stories, poems, photographs, and a song. These were exhibited, along with quotes from the interviews (all with participants’ permissions) at Silverdale Community Library in Autumn 2017. A launch event featuring readings was attended by students and staff from Keele University, former miners and local Silverdale residents. In 2018, many of the exhibition artefacts formed the basis of a show made in collaboration with immersive performance company, Restoke. Performed at Keele Chapel in June 2018, Seams featured several of the original workshop participants, a small number of professional artists, and community volunteers. The paper will reflect on the capacity for participatory place-writing to engender affective responses to deindustrialisation which are not necessarily nostalgic.
Emma Copestake (Liverpool): Pain, Love and Laughter: The Emotions of Solidarity on Liverpool’s Docks c. 1960s-1990s
David Featherstone (2012: 5) has defined solidarity as a ‘relation forged through political struggle which seeks to challenge forms of oppression’. A member of Women of the Waterfront, a support group for the 500 sacked dock workers that fought for reinstatement between 1995 and 1998, explained to me during an interview in July2017 that ‘human suffering makes better people’ because, through suffering, people are able to ‘tune in’ to the pain of others. The pain she referred to encompassed both the physical and emotional pain that defined the experience of many families in Liverpool throughout the twentieth century. The profound reflections of this interview grew from the discussions of everyday moments of love, support and laughter. In this paper, I focus on the way solidarity was (and still is) embedded in the symbiotic relationship between overt moments of political struggle and the power dynamics that shaped the daily life of dock workers and their families in Liverpool. By drawing upon Barbara Rosenwein’s (2002) concept of ‘emotional communities’, I examine the system of feeling that underlined solidarity including the gendered roles that solidarity and solidarity action entailed. I then assess the prominence of pain at work, at home and in the community before demonstrating how love and laughter functioned as forms of resistance. A combination of oral history interviews and the records of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company are used to highlight the significance of the dockers’ bucket, perm club and days out for retired men to understanding class. This understanding highlights the ways that solidarity has persisted despite the severe restrictions placed upon the traditional infrastructure of solidarity action. Most importantly, I reveal humour’s place at the heart of day-to-day resistance through its ability to subvert power structures, maintain strong bonds and regulate behaviour.
Kat Simpson (Huddersfield): Mining a Productive Seam: Retraditionalising Working-Class Relations and Performances as a Pedagogical Tool of Possibility
This paper presents data from ethnographic research carried out at ‘Lillydown Primary’, a local-authority school in a former coalmining community in South Yorkshire. It complicates Avery Gordon’s (2008) concept of social haunting arguing that, in order to transcend typical accounts of working-class resistance to schooling (see for example, Willis, 1997; Bright, 2012, 2018), we must move beyond the loss and social violence of the past and begin to reckon with the ‘goodness’ of ghosts – the goodness of working-class culture – that a haunting also transmits. The central argument is that various dimensions of staff and pupils’ shared histories work as an apparatus to diffuse and transform neoliberal processes and experiences of schooling. Particular relations and pedagogies are refashioned upon more traditional working-class codes and ethics, of trust, equality, and solidarity. Most notably, it shows how traditional working-class humour continues to be used as resource to manage social relations, mediate authority, and ameliorate the effects of dominant neoliberal discourses of education, and its role and function for working-class youth in contemporary capitalist society. Reckoning with and harnessing pupils’ ghosts – the loss, the goodness, and the utopian – is key, this paper argues, to truly understanding and potentially transforming experiences of schooling with and for the working class.
Moushumi Bhowmik (Jadavpur) and Ben Rogaly (Sussex): Towards Working-class Solidarity in the Face of Racial Nationalism: the Role of Music
As racial nationalist regimes across the globe consolidate their power through their inter-connections (viz, Bolsonaro; Trump; Orban; Modi; Netanyahu), so their efforts to divide working-class people along lines of ‘race’, ethnicity, faith, nationality, and differentiated citizenship laws continue apace. With social media trolling and ‘fake news’ increasingly used as additional sources of power for the radical right, challenging racial nationalist narratives requires innovative forms of affective politics. One among these that can build transnational working-class solidarity and also potentially celebrate working-class cultures is music. This paper explores connections being made through music within and across national boundaries and across time using as case studies music developed by those struggling against discriminatory (anti-Muslim) citizenship laws and state violence in India, and socialist internationalist Yiddish music – originally developed to protest against both anti-semitic pogroms and exploitative employment conditions and currently being revived in the UK, the US and eastern Europe.
Please note: This seminar series has not been organised by the WRDTP and as such all queries should be directed to Jay Emery as indicated above.