Collective memory in the mining communities of South Wales.

Selway, David (2017) Collective memory in the mining communities of South Wales. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Coal mining communities across Britain have often been argued to have possessed powerful collective memories of past struggles, though such memories have, as yet, been little studied. This thesis is a study of the collective memory of the interwar years within the mining communities of south Wales, and explores the ways in which the great strikes and lockouts, underground accidents, the interwar depression, and clashes with police and strike-breakers were remembered by the men and women of the coalfield.

Using nearly 200 oral history interviews that were recorded in the 1970s, alongside newspapers, political and trade union records, novels and other sources, this study examines collective remembering as a reciprocal interaction between the public representations of the past, and the memories and attitudes of individuals. It argues, firstly, that individual memory did not just reflect or rework discourses about past events, but was itself an important agent in shaping and creating collective understandings of that history. Those individual memories remained integral to those collective memories, rather than being subsumed within or subjugated by them. It also suggests that the relationship between individual and collective memory should not be seen as necessarily oppositional, nor as between two distinct and separate types of memory, but rather as a spectrum.

Secondly, it argues that the experiences of the inter-war years were understood and remembered within a number of distinct temporalities. Strikes and protests were often recalled within a linear framework, accidents underground were understood as a cyclical experience, whilst the depression was seen as a discontinuous rupture. It thus argues that conceptions of historical time were not singular, but plural and overlapping, and were themselves shaped and transformed by historical events. It thus traces understandings of time and how these changed at a popular level, rather than an intellectual or cultural one, through examining the memories, thoughts and attitudes of the men and women of the south Wales coalfield.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D016 Methodology- General works > D016.14 Oral history
D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain > DA700 Wales > DA714 History > DA720 Modern > DA722 19th-20th centuries
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2017 16:35
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2018 09:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/70562

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