Article (Scientific journals)
Silent witnesses: the disputed landscapes of Belgium’s Black Country
Bianchi, Michaël
2024In Labor History
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Keywords :
mining landscapes cultural landscapes; deindustrialization; slag heaps; labor memory; working-class history; post-industrial city
Abstract :
[en] Through historical and anthropological inquiry, this paper addresses the issue of memory antagonisms involving cultural landscapes in the context of a former mining region: the Belgian Black Country. This region, which became increasingly industrialized in the 19th century through the massive development of coal mining and steel industry, subsequently experienced deindustrialization, and now finds itself mobilized in a process of 'post-industrial' mutation. The paper is divided into two parts. In the first part, it examines how the landscapes inherited from industry, and in particular the slag heaps of the coalfield, have over time become repositories of a working-class memory, through the living and working practices of the communities surrounding the mines. It also documents the various representations attached to these landscape objects, whose contradictions echo the oppositions between capital and labor that have marked the development of industrial capitalism. The second part of the paper, which focuses on the present situation, examines how these representations are remobilized in the valorization processes that are initiated by different actors, in the context of a 'post-industrial' urban transition strategy that seeks to produce a unified and pacified historical narrative. We'll be looking at how historical conflicts still permeate the representations of these landscapes, the question of their conservation, and their possible future.
Disciplines :
Author, co-author :
Bianchi, Michaël  ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Unité de Recherches de la Faculté d'Architecture (URA)
Language :
Title :
Silent witnesses: the disputed landscapes of Belgium’s Black Country
Publication date :
27 February 2024
Journal title :
Labor History
Publisher :
Routledge, United Kingdom
Peer reviewed :
Peer Reviewed verified by ORBi
Development Goals :
11. Sustainable cities and communities
Name of the research project :
Deindustrialization and the Politics of Our Time
Available on ORBi :
since 28 February 2024


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