After Coal: Symposia on Post-industrial Culture and Society in Wales, Appalachia and Japan

 

Programme

A PDF version of the programme is available here.

Almost half a century has passed since we began to hear about the advent of post-industrial society. Whether that phrase is used as a euphoric praise of an economy where there exists no physical toil, or as a distressed lament about a world where the shape of work and employment has completely changed, a question still seems to beg an answer: what is the status of ‘post’ in ‘post-industrial’? In other words, have we really done with industrial work which used to be the basis of our society and community, in the age when we are still obviously surrounded by abundant industrial products? What about the energy we daily use? When have we turned pure consumers, oblivious of the productive work ‘contracted out’ elsewhere?

These questions seem to invite us to consider these matters in terms of the ‘residual’ and the ‘dominant’, to use Raymond Williams’s famous expressions. Yes, coal-mining may be gone, but people and communities in those areas which we are going to deal with are not. Neither are their cultures. They are the ‘residual’ in both of the senses that they are gone and that they are still present.

After Coal, directed by Tom Hansell, addresses these questions by looking at the simultaneous processes of industrialisation and de-industrialisation in South Wales and Appalachia. This documentary film depicts how working-class communities were formed in both countries, and how the period of the 70s to the 90s saw rapid unravelling of the organised labour and its communities. Not only that, but the main thrust of the work is to show how people are striving to regenerate their communities through various cultural projects; it deals with the ‘emergent’, to use the last one from Williams’s set of phrases.

The purpose of this series of symposia in Japan with distinguished scholars from each of these areas is to investigate into the destinies of ‘post-industrial’ communities not only in Appalachia and Wales, but in Japan. Questions may include the following: How are the communities trying to regenerate themselves in these areas? What are the literary representations of the situations of those communities? What has Welsh nationalism to do with its industrial and post-industrial past and future? What is the status of culture in a seemingly economic question of community regeneration?

 

 

18 February 2018 @Osaka University

Main Building (Let. Law. Econ.) 2F Dai-Kaigishitsu, Toyonaka Campus

(大阪大学豊中キャンパス文法経本館2階大会議室)

 

9.30     Coffee

9.50   Opening Remarks (Shintaro Kono)

10.00  A screening of After Coal

11.00  Tom Hansell, ‘Divided We Fall: Coal, Politics, and Culture in the USA’

12.00    Lunch

13.00  Daniel G. Williams, ‘Home to an Empty House: Post-industrial Melancholia in Welsh Literature’

14.00  Simon Brooks, ‘The Emptiness of Nationalism: Problems of Internal Colonialism’

15.00    Coffee

15.30  Shinsuke Furuya, ‘1959-60 Miike Coal Miners’ Strike : What Did Mitsui Miike Coal Miners’ Union Try to Protect?’

16.30  Discussion

17.00  Closing Remarks (Takashi Onuki)

18.00    Dinner

 

 

23 February 2018 @Japan Women’s University

Shinsenzan-kan 2F Kaigishitsu, Mejiro Campus

(日本女子大学目白キャンパス新泉山館2階会議室)

 

9.30     Coffee

9.50   Opening Remarks (Shintaro Kono)

10.00  A screening of After Coal

11.00  Tom Hansell, ‘Divided We Fall: Coal, Politics and Culture in the USA’

12.00    Lunch

13.00  Daniel G. Williams, ‘Raymond Williams and the Post-industrial: From Class to Identity’

14.00  Simon Brooks, ‘Reaction in the Coalfield’

15.00    Coffee

15.30  Hideo Nakazawa, ‘Miners’ Diaspora and Politicized “Heritage”: After Forgotten Coal in Japan’

16.30  Discussion

17.00  Closing Remarks (Ryota Nishi)

18.00    Dinner

 

 

Speakers’ Profiles

 

Tom Hansell, Appalachian State University

Tom Hansell’s documentary work has been broadcast nationally on public television and has screened at international film festivals. He is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hansell’s documentary Coal Bucket Outlaw was funded by ITVS broadcast on public television in 30 states. His 2010 documentary project, The Electricity Fairy, screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was selected by the Southern Arts Association for the Southern Circuit tour of independent filmmakers.  After Coal has screened at festivals throughout the US.  A companion book for the documentary will be published by West Virginia University Press in 2018.

 

Daniel G. Williams, Swansea University

Daniel G. Williams is Professor of English Literature and Director of the Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales at Swansea University. He is the author of Ethnicity and Cultural Authority: From Arnold to Du Bois (2006), Black Skin, Blue Books: African Americans and Wales (2012) and Wales Unchained: Literature, Politics and Identity (2015). He has edited several works including Slanderous Tongues: Essays on Welsh Poetry in English 1970-2005 (Seren, 2010), a special issue of the journal Keywords on Raymond Williams in Japan (2011) and a collection of Raymond Williams’s writings, Who Speaks for Wales? Nation, Culture, Identity (2003). He is also saxophonist with the jazz-folk sextet ‘Burum’ who have recorded three albums: Alawon (2007), Caniadau (2012) and ‘Llef’ (2016)

 

Simon Brooks, Swansea University

Dr. Simon Brooks is Associate Professor at the Morgan Academy, Swansea University. An expert in the history of ideas in Wales, Simon has also written widely about political theory, cultural history, language and public policy.

A prolific author, his latest book, Why Wales never was (2017), debates the interface between liberalism and nationalism in 19th century, and contemporary, Europe and Wales. Previous titles have discussed the influence of Enlightenment thought on 20th century Wales, and the future of Welsh as a community language. His next volume, to be published in 2019, asks what might be different about multiculturalism in sub-state nations and regions. He is also General Editor of the University of Wales Press series of intellectual biographies, Dawn Dweud.

Before turning to academia, Dr. Brooks was Editor of the Welsh-language current affairs magazine, Barn. He is a member of the Welsh Language Partnership Council, the body which advises the Welsh Government on Welsh language policy. He also has experience of community regeneration, and is Chair of the Town Council of Porthmadog, a post-industrial port community in north-west Wales.

 

Shinsuke Furuya, Osaka Sangyo University

Shinsuke Furuya is Associate Professor at Osaka Sangyo University. His fields of study are industrial relations theory, human resource management, and work organisation. He is the author of The Study for Package Software’s Work Organization (2007) and he co-authored Offshore Development, Staffing Service, and Vocational Education in China’s Software Industry (2008).

 

Hideo Nakazawa, Chuo University

Hideo Nakazawa is Professor of Political Sociology at Chuo University, Tokyo. He is the representative researcher of an academic team called JAFCOF (http://c-faculty.chuo-u.ac.jp/~nakazawa/english/index.html) to continue study on coal industry and regeneration of former coalfields in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. He visited Welsh mining sites and Swansea University as a visiting fellow at University of Kent in 2006/07 and was struck by many similar challenges coalfield people face. Most of his books and articles are written in Japanese but some English articles are available online (http://www.nakazawa-lab.net/intro/cv_e.html).

 

 

 Abstracts of Papers

 

Tom Hansell, ‘Divided We Fall: Coal, Politics, and Culture in the USA’

What happens to coal mining communities after the mines shut down? Why do some places survive while others become ghost towns? As a filmmaker who has spent my career living and working in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky, these questions are close to my heart.

To explore the challenges facing communities in transition, I traveled to South Wales, where most mines shut down after the 1984-1985 national miners’ strike. I met inspiring individuals who have fought to rebuild their communities. Their commitment to place reminded me of my friends in central Appalachia working to create a post coal economy. During my travels, I learned that there is not a simple solution to rebuilding coalfield communities.

In addition to profiling people working to regenerate post coal communities, my paper will examine some of the obstacles that keep former mining towns from flourishing. These factors include: How the incorporation of the American coal industry into the global economy has fundamentally transformed the industry’s traditional market relationships as well as how well financed corporate publicity campaigns have changed the political alliance of coal miners. Finally, I will discuss how coalfield community members are working to speak across growing political divisions in the US.

 

Daniel G. Williams, ‘“Home to an Empty House”: Post-industrial melancholia in Welsh Literature’

If the movement out of Wales was a familiar narrative development in the literature of the 1930s, the return to Wales is a familiar trope in post-war literature. The question that arises is ‘home to what’? With the erosion of those things that had traditionally made Wales distinctive – language, religion, industry – it would seem that there was little left. Nevertheless the second half of the twentieth century witnesses the rise of political nationalism and the establishment of a National Assembly in Wales. This paper’s resonant title comes from an Alun Richards novel that speaks to this seeming paradox. I will draw on Freudian and Marxist theory in exploring the desire to return and the encounter with a cultural and economic emptiness in the writings of Alun Richards, Raymond Williams, Leslie Norris and others.

 

Simon Brooks, ‘The Emptyness of Nationalism: Problems of Internal Colonialism’

Michael Hechter’s Internal Colonialism: the Celtic fringe in British national development, 1536-1966 (1975) is a key text for nationalist, and post-colonial, thought within a Welsh context. The spatial extremities of the British Isles have been exploited by the metropolis. The dependence of the south Wales coalfield on primary production, and the export of the wealth produced, maps on a ‘cultural division of labour’, the result of ethnic and linguistic difference between the coalfield and the metropolis. Welsh nationalism purports to make amends for this exploitative relationship, and to ensure for the spatial fringe, differentiated by cultural difference, economic rewards. However, in the construction of an embryonic Welsh state, Welsh nationalism has not challenged this model of internal colonialism. Rather it has imported the model to Wales, marking the new capital city, Cardiff, as metropolis, and a post-industrial hinterland as a spatial fringe to be exploited. This paper explores the emptyness of nationalism. Does nationalism merely localise old models of exploitation, or can a form of ‘national’ identity be established which breaks from the model of internal colonialism?

 

Shinsuke Furuya, ‘1959-60 Miike Coal Miners’ Strike: What Did Mitsui Miike Coal Miners Union Try to Protect?’

Mitsui Miike Coal Miners’ Strike, which lasted from December 1959 till November 1960, was the biggest industrial action which took place in post-war Japan, involving three hundred thousand people and costing the Mitsui Miike Company 22 billion yen. The miners, who were on the winning side during the 50s, suffered a severe loss as a result of this fierce action. This paper aims to show what the miners tried to protect, by introducing the historical context for the strike. What was in focus was so-called haieki (member assignment) and rimban-sei (job rotation), which represented miners’ democratic control of their work and production, and which they won from employers through the struggles during the 50s. The history of this strike will show a different face if we put emphasis on this spirit of mutual benefiting that the workers so desperately tried to protect.

 

Daniel G. Williams, ‘Raymond Williams and the Post-industrial: From Class to Identity’

One of the consequences of industrial decline is a shift in political discourse from class to place and identity. Raymond Williams explored and commented on this shift, and his work may also be considered an example of it. In his recent tirades ‘against identity’ Walter Benn Michaels has argued that ‘class’ has been transformed into ‘identity’ and as a consequence we tend to ‘respect’ economic difference where we should be trying to eradicate it. He traces the roots of this mistake to ‘Raymond Williams if you’re a literary critic, the sort of profound nostalgia for a certain version of the working class’. This paper discusses the validity of this critique from the perspective of a Wales that – like England (and perhaps Trump-voting Appalachia) but unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland – voted to leave the European Union.  Is the kind of cultural criticism practiced and espoused by Raymond Williams partly at fault for our current situation, and does it offer any ways out of the current crisis?

 

Simon Brooks, ‘Reaction in the Coalfield’

In Welsh historiography, the south Wales coalfield is imagined as a crucible of radical and socialist thought. The coalfield has also given rise to influential socialist politicians, and produced important socialist movements. Despite this ‘tradition’, the south Wales coalfield voted heavily to leave the European Union in the 2016 ‘Brexit’ referendum, and has had higher levels of support for right-wing populism than other parts of Wales. This has been explained in popular debate as an abberation from a radical past, interpreted as a cry for help to, and a condemnation of, a middle-class liberal elite.

 

Hideo Nakazawa, ‘Miners’ Diaspora and Politicized “Heritage”: After Forgotten Coal in Japan’

Coming across with the three abstracts from Wales and Appalachia, I understand that the status and meaning of miners’ solidarity is in question. Thus my paper changed from initial idea of describing various regeneration strategies in Japan’s 7 main coalfields, to rather focusing to the fate of miners and working class in this “forward looking” country. First of all, coal is treated as a forgotten saga in Japan although 1/3 of our electricity is still generated from imported coal. People began to act as if there have been no coalmines in Japan, as most of the mines were closed in line with high economic growth of 1960-70s. Obsolete coal was expelled by oil and other high-tech industries, according to their view. What happened to the ex-miners in this context was, policy-led diaspora in appalling scale. They were forced to move along Taiheiyo Industrial Belt, or suburban collective housing in big cities. This is also the story of collapse of working class solidarity (Tanrou, the counterpart of National Union of Mineworkers and the most militant union also in Japanese Isles, disbanded in 2004). In 2010s when the remains of Tanrou’s glory waned, Abe cabinet took their initiative to designate former mines and iron furnaces to UNESCO World Heritage (UWH). Eventually on 2015 summer, “Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” was inscribed to UWH, but even reading through the official description it is hard to find any voices and traces of miners who propped the “revolution” underground. I would argue this problematic politicization of “Heritage” requires us to ponder on how we could reunite the ties once miners built in border mining villages. That is exactly what Japanese should learn from the struggles in also mountainous Wales and Appalachia.

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