Local history as productive nostalgia? Change, continuity and sense of place in rural England
Social and Cultural Geography
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis GroupLocal history groups are often negatively associated with a tendency to indulge in nostalgic practices that yearn for a romanticized past and propagate resistance to change. Their role in local politics and power networks (particularly in relation to planning and development processes) has also been critiqued as exacerbating issues of social inequality and exclusion. While not contesting the realities of such arguments, this paper adds nuance to such debates using the notion of ‘productive’ or ‘mobile’ nostalgia to explore possibilities for more positive renderings of local history and heritage activities. Empirical evidence from qualitative research in a rural village in Norfolk, England, is drawn on to demonstrate the role of these practices in providing a sense of continuity amid a continuously changing locale through the reassertion of place identities and attachments. Although by no means apolitical, this process need not necessarily be one of preservationism and resistance to change, but can be a mechanism through which residents are able to accept, or even welcome, changes to the social and physical constitution of their village. The paper also critically considers the value of productive nostalgia as a concept through which to explore local history practices and wider heritage movements.
This paper was made possible by the support of the LEEP Institute at University of Exeter. I would also like to thank all the Martham residents who participated in the research and two anonymous referees for their constructive comments on an earlier version of the paper.
Article in Press
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis (Routledge) via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 18, Iss. 4, pp. 1 - 21