Belonging, memory and history in the north Nottinghamshire coalfield
journal contributionposted on 10.10.2018, 15:57 by Jay Emery
Studies recurrently emphasise the critical role played by memory in the production of belonging in the context of deindustrialisation. This paper examines the interrelations of memory, history and belonging among former coal miners in the north Nottinghamshire coalfield surrounding Mansfield, UK, an area of complex and contested memories and histories. Couched in the approaches of emotional geographies and the ‘turn to affect’, the paper investigates the emotional and affective dimensions of remembering histories of the coal industry under nationalisation between 1947 and 1994 including job security, the 1984–1985 miners' strike and colliery closures, as well as the industrial ruination which these closures caused. To fully apprehend and empathise with the emotional processes of memory, the paper contends that memories must always be situated within a reading of the wider historical geographies and politics upon which they are constituted. Drawing on archival research and psychosocial life history interviews, the paper broadly argues that historicising memories as well as examining their affective dimensions advances understanding into what has been lost and disrupted through localised processes of deindustrialisation and postindustrialism. In the case of north Nottinghamshire the contested solidarities of the miners' strike and subsequent colliery closures have endured in affective memories which, in turn, have problematised the production of individual and collective belonging.