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Coal, Slate and Culture

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Board of Celtic Studies (2005 – 2006)


The study compared and contrasted different strategies of ‘cultural regeneration’ within four ex-industrial communities in Wales. The instrumental use of culture has become increasingly central to attempts to relocate (re-image, re-direct) the economic and social base of run-down localities blighted by the closure of once-dominant industrial sectors (in this case the extractive industries). In Wales, two industrial sectors in particular - the south’s once-large coal industry and the north’s smaller but renowned slate industry - have been targeted as suitable for re-presentation as consumer-oriented ‘experiences’, with the aim of attracting leisure-oriented visitors and money. Accordingly, certain localities have been singled out for capital-intensive, top-down, ‘heritagisation’ strategies (Dicks, 2000). However, little has been documented about how these strategies were decided upon, implemented and, indeed, how they have been received by community members themselves. By contrast, other localities in the two regions have received little in the way of top-down regeneration initiative. Yet new forms of ‘culture’ – especially in the form of home-grown popular music – have sprung up, and found a certain, limited degree of support and provision from local statutory and voluntary agencies. Such bottom-up initiatives contrast strongly with the heavily-capitalised, top-down heritage ventures already described. The study described and documented contrasting contexts of regeneration in four different localities. Secondly, it analysed their implications for the achievement of regeneration (both socio-economic and cultural) and aimed to uncover the economic, political, and socio-cultural determinants in each case which underlie, and may help explain, the contrasting experiences in each locality. The study also prepared the ground for localities research carried out by WISERD.


Project Publications

Brand, Identity or Citizenship? The case of post-devolution Wales, Contemporary Wales, Volume 22, Housley, W, Smith, R. and Moles, K. (2009)


Coal, Slate and Culture


Links for Dr William Housley