MCH Seminar Series: Nostalgia: a ‘connective tissue’ for heritage and/or an aide to late capitalism?



Image credit: Nostalgia Shelf Eugene Kim

Wednesday 21 June, 1-3pm, Armstrong Building, 2.90

Nostalgia: a ‘connective tissue’ for heritage and/or an aide to late capitalism?

Prof Alastair Bonnett (Geography, Newcastle University)

Philippa Carter (PhD Researcher, Geography, Newcastle University)

Dr Sarah de Nardi (Geography, Durham University)


Prof Alastair Bonnett: ‘The nostalgic commodity: hyper-capitalism and yearning’

Late capitalism sustains the seemingly contradictory impulses to uproot the world and to commoditise memory into nostalgic products and experiences. This paper looks at how this paradox has been approached in Eve Chiapello and Luc Boltanski’s The New Spirit of Capitalism and suggests that capitalism and nostalgia may have closer and more creative ties that previously theorised.

Philippa Carter: ‘Encountering nostalgia in the Land of Oak and Iron’

My PhD project explores the ways in which landscapes are valued as heritage by communities and across generations. Taking the Derwent Valley, North East England as a case study and working in collaboration with the Land of Oak and Iron Landscape Partnership project the research will explore the ways in which people understand and engage with their local landscapes and how this is mediated by their family relationships and collective memories. Focusing on the ways in which memories of the industrial landscape are employed and deployed, transformed and translated within and between local communities, the project will particularly consider the ways in which nostalgia can play an active role in the construction of memory and heritage. In this talk I will consider some of the initial encounters I have experienced within the Land of Oak and Iron, and what the feelings of nostalgia expressed within these situations can reveal about how individuals and groups negotiate the past as part of constructing a shared heritage.

Dr Sarah de Nardi: ‘Mapping more-than-nostalgia: framing heritage co-production and heritage futures through community mapping’

Is nostalgia an affect? Or is it a performative mechanism enacted by heritage professionals and publics together, in order to get the ‘mood’ right? Like heritage co-production, nostalgia may work as a connective tissue between heritage publics, practitioners and heritage objects through materiality and imagination. In this talk, I argue that the process of co-producing, of making and negotiating heritage values, relies on more than verbal clues and sensory experiences that exceed the discursive and representational. I explore these clues through community-led memory mapping. Co-curated memory mapping may bring together the imaginative, the creative and the unspoken in a story that ‘illustrates’ present and future passions, dreams and statements as well as (or more than) simple nostalgia for a past.


The seminar is free and is open to all interested in attending. No need to book



SACS working paper series – SACS-o

Launch of SACS working paper series – SACS-o

We are pleased to announce the launch of the School of Arts and Cultures first online Working Papers series – SACS-o (ISSN 2399-8725). The series received funding for its establishment from the School’s Research Committee and we are pleased to acknowledge that support here.

The SACS-o Working Papers series is an online, academic series which publishes research papers and shorter works-in-progress by emerging and established scholars working in the broad domains of media, culture and heritage, based at Newcastle University or one of its collaborating partner institutions. The series publishes novel findings which are immediately open access, making content easily and freely available which we hope will increase audience, visibility, citations and impact.

The first paper, UK General Election 2015: Dealing with Austerity, is authored by Massimo Ragnedda and Maria Laura Ruiu (both Northumbria University). You can read the article here Current issue. This is the first in a linked set of papers to be published by a group of colleagues from Newcastle and Northumbria Universities who worked together on a series of sub-projects focused on the UK General Election 2015.

We have two more papers in the publications pipeline and are seeking new contributions, so please consider publishing in the series. We would also be grateful if you would forward this email and spread the news about the series to other colleagues who might be interested in contributing papers.  The guidelines for submission can be found here Submission and guidelines.

We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions, please email Tobias Bürger (

Karen Ross and Tobias Bürger



MCH Seminar Series: ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’: Investigating the Power of the Poppy and the Significance of the Centenary



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Photo credit: Joanne Sayner


We are delighted to announce details of the next event in the MCH seminar series:

‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’: Investigating the Power of the Poppy and the Significance of the Centenary

Speakers: Dr Jenny Kidd (Cardiff University) and Dr Joanne Sayner (Newcastle University)
Chair: Prof Rhiannon Mason (Newcastle University)
Date and time: 17th May, 3 – 5pm
Location: Armstrong Building, Newcastle University, Room 2.90
Format: Co-presented paper followed by discussion

Free, all welcome


On 4 August 2014 the now iconic poppy exhibition ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ opened at the Tower of London. Memorably dismissed as ‘Fake, trite and inward-looking – a UKIP-style memorial’ by Jonathan Jones in The Guardian (28 October 2014), it was nevertheless estimated that five million people visited it in the four months it was onsite. Accompanying this installation was an education programme developed by Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) called ‘Why Remember?’. This programme in turn originated in an Arts and Humanities Research Council network called ‘The Significance of the Centenary’, which was co-organised by the authors of this paper and the Education and Learning Manager of HRP. It was based on three questions ‘Why should we remember?’, ‘Why are 100 years significant?’ and ‘How would you remember?’. The programme ran online (, was part of HRP’s on- and off-site learning programmes, was the basis for visitor research done during the opening week of the installation, and is now being used to address audiences as two set pieces from the poppy installation travel around the UK. More than 2000 responses have been gathered to date. It is the 1488 visitor responses collated at the Tower and online as part of Historic Royal Palaces learning programmes between August 2014 and April 2015 that are the subject of this paper.

Discourse and content analysis of the data provides us with some answers to the questions: who participated (in terms of age, gender and nationality); why they thought they were there; what forms of remembering they considered to be important; what links they made to other events past and present; and to what extent their answers evoked and/or reflected an emotional response. We investigate the extent to which remembrance was performed differently by males and females, online and offline, and we draw conclusions about the effect of age and nationality. We focus particularly on the ways in which people talked about the poppy as a symbol of remembrance and the relationship this symbol had to the centenary as marker and event. We explore how the visitors used the participation in the survey as a form of commemoration and suggest that, based on these responses, it is too simplistic to dismiss the installation as a nationalistic and ‘toothless’ war memorial (Jones 2014).

Jenny Kidd is Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. She researches across the fields of digital, heritage and museum studies, with a particular interest in questions of representation and power. Jenny recently published Representation (Routledge 2015) and Museums in the New Mediascape (Ashgate 2014). Dr Jenny Kidd,,‎, @jenkidd

Joanne Sayner is Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University. She publishes on the politics of remembering in the UK and contemporary Germany, with a particular focus on gender, media and life writing. Her most recent book was Reframing Antifascism: Memory, Genre and the Life Writings of Greta Kuckhoff (Palgrave 2013). Dr Joanne Sayner,

Both Jenny and Joanne are Co-Investigators for the AHRC WWI Voices of War and Peace Engagement Centre ( with responsibility for the thematic area ‘Commemoration’.