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



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



P1020804 (1)
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’.

Affective authenticity?


Museums, objects and memories of historical and contemporary migration.

An interview with Dr Susannah Eckersley, Lecturer in Museum, Gallery & Heritage Studies at Newcastle University


With the Museums Association’s annual conference taking place this week in Glasgow, we turn our attention to MCH’s Dr Susannah Eckersley and her current role as Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam, Germany.

Conference themes this week include museums as places of sanctuary and refuge and as public spaces for debates around migration, identity and the refugee crisis. Susannah’s research compliments those themes well with her project analysing the responses of museums and their audiences to migration.

Susannah has also contributed to the ‘thinking through migration’ website and toolkit for museums, which will be presented at the Museums Conference this week

Project title: Affective authenticity? Museums, objects and memories of historical and contemporary migration

This project analyses the responses of museums and their audiences to migration, in connection with material traces of these pasts, linking traumatic memory theories with material culture theories. It explores the potential affective power of ‘authentic’ objects in the museum context in influencing how contemporary audiences situate themselves in relation to constructions of the past.

Researcher: Dr Susannah Eckersley, Lecturer in Museum, Gallery & Heritage Studies at Newcastle University, and from October to December 2016 Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam, Germany, as part of the Leibniz Research Alliance ‘Historical Authenticity’.

Could you tell me a bit about the work you’ll be doing during your Fellowship?

During the Fellowship in Potsdam I will be undertaking new empirical research on contemporary and historical migration, the ways in which it is presented and addressed by museums, particularly in Berlin, and how this is received by audiences. I will also be using the libraries of the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam and the Institute for Museum Research in Berlin, and making the most of being away from my normal workplace to focus on some writing.

And when did you first become interested in the role of museum in relation to displacement and forced migration?

Probably mainly during my time working as a researcher on the MeLA project – a European Commission funded project on European museums in an Age of Migrations ( – which I worked on from 2011 to 2015. Within the Newcastle team working on MeLA, I focussed on the overall question of the connections between migration and museums, looking not only at ‘Migration Museums’ as such, but perhaps more accurately, at how migration – as ever-present within human history – is a part of every museum, whether the museum recognises this or not. In addition I took individual responsibility for undertaking research on displacement and forced migration as one of several forms of migration, investigating this through an analysis of various museums. My existing knowledge of German museums, and of the German history of displacement and forced migration following German border changes at the end of World War II put me in an excellent position to examine this issue through a number of German case studies.

Can you point us to some examples of projects that you feel responds to the difficult heritage of forced migration in a particularly interesting, or challenging way?

There are currently a great many museum and heritage projects focussing on migration, particularly in response to the ‘refugee crisis’, to the point that in some circles it has – I’m sorry to say almost become ‘fashionable’ to work on migration.

Nonetheless, there are projects which seem to be laying new ground for museum and heritage work in Germany, with migration apparently acting as a kind of catalyst for change – one example of this, I would suggest, is Multaka, a project developed by the Museum for Islamic Art in Berlin together with young Syrians (

A newly-opened museum I visited recently which covers the long history of migration, displacement and resettlement in Germany is the Museum Friedland ( This takes a photographic and archival approach to presenting migration, but interestingly, as it is located on the edges of one of Germany’s main Grenzdurchgangslager (Border Transit Camps) it not only works together on projects with (and for) those living temporarily in the camp, but also offers a ‘Museum Trail’ – sensitively carried out walking tours of the transit camp and town, focussing on sites of relevance to historical migrations and the contemporary migrant experience. These tours are led by individuals with personal experiences of the camp, either migrants themselves, inhabitants of the small town within which the transit camp is embedded or volunteers and staff at the camp.

Other projects dealing with forced migration specifically, include the controversial plans for a Centre against Expulsions (, which has long been the subject of debate both inside and beyond Germany, due to its history of problematic political connections and challenging ideological standpoints. The more recent Foundation for Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation (, under the umbrella of a committee from the German Historical Museum and the German government, are currently developing a new documentation and exhibition centre in Berlin as a response to this controversial initiative, so it will be particularly interesting to see how this develops.

I take it you’ll be looking at the response of museums in Germany in particular. Is there something distinctive about the German response for you? Why Germany? 

My interest in recent German history stems from my undergraduate studies in German, as well as from my own personal background as a bilingual, British-German dual national. Germany has experienced so many extremes of political, social and cultural orders and disruptions over the past century, and this has inevitably had an impact on the whole of German society, its politics and its culture. Museums – institutions at the intersection between society, politics and culture – offer a fascinating insight into this past, and its continuing impact on the present. The way in which Germany responded to the recent ‘European refugee crisis’ and the large numbers of people seeking refuge was unique within Europe, but has also had serious political consequences. While it has acted as a catalyst for previously unseen large-scale public displays of divisions within German society and politics (for example PEGIDA and the AfD), it may also be a catalyst for change within society and in museum practices, recognising the need for and value of dialogue both within and beyond the confines of the museum. The recent influx of refugees and migrants is inevitably changing German society at a speed and in ways which had perhaps not been considered, but which open up the possibility for new ways of – and the necessity for – thinking about belonging and identity.

What will you be reading over the coming months? Which texts do you find yourself referring to most regularly when you’re writing?

Of course, I will make sure that I read those German-language publications on the topics of migration, museums, belonging and identity which are not available easily in the UK, but I will also be going ‘back to basics’ to re-read some of the key works in heritage and museum studies as well as critical and cultural theory – the multiple day-to-day demands of teaching, university administration, Erasmus coordination, student support and research project management which I am temporarily leaving behind can crowd out the mind, so this is a wonderful opportunity to refresh my intellectual faculties!

The Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam, has put out a call for fellows in 2017. More information can be found at


Self-Representation in Digital Culture

The next seminar in our series takes place on Wednesday 2nd November 2016, 3-5pm, 2.90 Armstrong Building, Newcastle University

Self-Representation in Digital Culture

For this seminar, we are delighted to welcome:
  • Dr Debbie Ging (Dublin City University) ‘I’m not starving myself, I’m perfecting my emptiness’: an analysis of pro-ana and thinspiration image sharing practices on Instagram.’
  • Dr Gareth Longstaff (Newcastle University) ‘Let’s Take a Selfie: Self-Representation, Pornographication and Impersonal Narcissism online.’

The seminar is free, and is open to all interested in attending.

Dr Debbie Ging (Dublin City University): ”I’m not starving myself, I’m perfecting my emptiness’: an analysis of pro-ana and thinspiration image sharing practices on Instagram.’

Since the pro-anorexia phenomenon, also referred to as pro-ana or simply ana, began to emerge on the internet in the early 1990s, there has been a growing body of academic work on pro-ana communities online. Underpinned by diverse and often conflicting disciplinary perspectives, most of this work focuses on websites and blogs. In recent years, however, the pro-ana ‘movement’ has migrated onto social media platforms. When, in 2012, both Tumblr and Pinterest imposed a ban to restrict pro-ana sharing, many pro-anas turned their attention to Instagram, a strongly visual application that was originally designed for editing and sharing photos. There is, however, a dearth of research, particularly gender-aware research, on pro-ana practices and discourses in the context of newer mobile social platforms such as Instagram. Using a dataset of 7,560 images, this study explores pro-anorexia and thinspiration image sharing practices on Instagram. It asks whether the shift from websites and blogs to this social media platform has entailed significant changes in terms of how the pro-ana community communicates and discursively constructs itself. We conclude that memes and the memetic nature of image sharing as well as the more peripherally governed, particpatory nature of Instagram impact upon pro-ana communicative practices in new ways that are worthy of feminist scholarly attention.
Dr Gareth Longstaff (Newcastle University): ‘Bodies that Stutter’ – Impersonal Desires, Jouissance and the queer politics of the selfie

Using the original concept of ‘Bodies that Stutter’ this paper will focus on how post-queer practices of self-representation on digital and networked media (captured in the practice of the sexually explicit ‘selfie’) frame a rhetoric of desire that reconsiders queer identity and body politics through processes of post-queer identification and those queer bodies that have previously ‘mattered’ (Butler, 1993) and ‘muttered’ (Dean, 2000). Using the work of Jacques Lacan to reposition Tim Deans and Judith Butler concepts of bodies that matter and bodies that mutter this post-queer body that stutters is reflective of the hesitancy, frustration, exhilaration, and repetition that it subversively contains, as well as remaining vulnerable to metonymic contiguity and transposition of a symbolically normative language it cannot control. ‘Bodies that Stutter’ are also the bodies that attempt to express a powerful jouissance through a language of the ‘personal’ and the metaphorical signifier. Yet, unlike Imaginary bodies that rely upon ego, the ‘Bodies that Stutter’ are subject to an impersonal Other that underpins how their desire is expressed metonymically – through this process they symbolically-stutter. A lot like desire, stuttering is reliant upon stops and starts, structure and chaos, satisfaction and dissatisfaction. It is also something that cannot be contained or applied to one body above another or indeed one identity and/or identity type. This paper uses the contextual focus of the sexually explicit selfie and its ubiquity among gay men on the website tumblr to suggest that bodies that stutter form a practice of ‘symbolic stuttering’ that might well occur in multiple, ambiguous, and oblique ways.

The format will be 30 minutes for each paper, followed by a discussion chaired by Dr Clifton Evers. We will have tea, coffee and something sweet at 3pm, followed by a drinks reception at 4.30pm.

Museum, Gallery and Heritage Studies Open Day


Wednesday 15th June
3.38 Armstrong Building

Are you interested in a career in the museum, gallery and heritage sector? If so, our postgraduate courses could be for you. Come along to our open day on Wednesday 15th June to meet current staff and students, ask questions, and discover where our MAs, PGDips and PGCerts can take you!

To book your place, please email:

You can also follow the day on twitter by following us @mch_newcastle or by using the hashtag #mghsopenday

Call for Papers: Discourse, Culture and Politics

An interdisciplinary symposium in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Hosted by the Newcastle Critical Discourse Group (NCDG)

Wednesday 18th May 2016, 11am-5pm, Newcastle University, KGVI.LT1

The NCDG is organizing a half-day symposium for PhD researchers across the social sciences. This would be a great opportunity for PGR students at all stages to present their work, get feedback and build networks across the faculty through a friendly and supportive environment. The event is not limited to research in critical discourse studies. We invite submissions on any topic related the theme of the symposium.

– If you would like to present you can reserve a place on the symposium programme by sending a title and abstract (150-250 words) to Pomelo ( and May ( ) by 5pm on Sunday 15th May 2016.

– Alongside your title and abstract, please include your full contact details and a brief biographical note (your name, your school & university)

– Please also specify in which stage of your PhD research you think you are (e.g. early, middle or final stage).

– Presentations will be around 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for Q&A

– The symposium will be closed with a round-table discussion, chaired by Majid Khosravinik and Darren Kelsey to ask further questions and continue discussion on general issues of research at PhD level

– PhD students in Newcastle University HASS faculty are strongly encouraged to attend and present at this event

– Fellow PhD researchers from other universities are also very welcome. We would love to hear about other research environments

– Please feel welcome to join us and attend this unique event even if you are not delivering a paper. The full event programme will be made available in advance of the day.

– If you do wish to present but you would like to attend, please send an email to our organising team (lunch will be provided if you confirm your attendance in advance): Suwannamas Lekngam (Pomelo) at Mesirin Kwanjai (May) at

Thank you and we hope to see you at the symposium.

Best wishes

Organising committee members

Allaina Kilby (Cardiff University) – Satire for Sanity: An examination of media representation & audience engagement with The Daily Show’s Rally to Restore Sanity

Wednesday 13th April
4pm – ARMB.3.38

This talk is hosted by The Critical Discourse Group

In 2010 late night satire hosts, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart held the ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’ on the Washington Mall. This was a unique and ambiguous event because it fell outside of the normative boundaries of both host’s successful television platforms. Furthermore, speculation was rife regarding the intentions of the event. Characterisations ranged from it being an activism platform for civil political discourse, a political advocacy rally to encourage support for the Democrats to it simply being a comedy/music event with no ties to politics. After the event, its intentions and peoples motivations for attending were still unclear. The vagueness and intrigue that surrounded the rally was the primary motivation for this study. To provide a comprehensive analysis ethnography, audience interviews and media content and framing analysis were used to study the ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’. Incorporating this multi-method approach allowed me to examine the way the news media and rallygoers viewed the intentions of the events and its effectiveness. Furthermore, audience research provided greater insight into the type of people that engage with political satire platforms and their political participatory habits.