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Public history group: Revisiting the Miners’ strike of 1984 -5

2012 February 10

Saturday 4 February 2012

The 1984/85 Miners’ Strike: Re-claiming Cultural Heritage Michael Bailey (University of Essex)  Simon Popple (University of Leeds)

In this session Michael and Simon  discussed their research  as follows:

Shortly after the 1984/85 miners’ strike had come to an end, the socialist historian Raphael Samuel noted that the meaning of the strike would be determined not ‘by the terms of settlement … or even by the events of the past year but by the way in which it is assimilated in popular memory, by … retrospective understanding both in the pit villages themselves and in the country at large’. The significance of Samuel’s remark is that, though the 1984/85 strike was a decisive defeat for mining communities, it is imperative that such communities are encouraged to participate in the creation of new representations and social rituals that seek to democratise the mediation of the strike. Not only because such texts hold out the promise of raising public awareness of what actually happened twenty-five years ago but because they also provide affirmation for those miners and families most affected by the strike-action and the subsequent closure of pits. This presentation discusses the two AHRC/BBC funded projects undertaken on this between autumn 2007 and summer 2009 by a small team from the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds.

They have written up aspect of this in an article in the book eds Laurajane Smith, Gary Campbell & Paul Shackel, Heritage, Labour and the Working Classes  Routledge, 2011. I also have an article in the same book on English labour movement festivals.


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