My PhD research explores culture and the construction of civic identity in South and West Yorkshire in the industrial and post-industrial ages. My project is being supervised by Dr Lisanne Gibson in the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the Understanding Everyday Participation – Articulating Cultural Value project.
One of the key areas of focus for the Understanding Everyday Participation project is upon histories of cultural participation and governance. This work aims to increase understanding of how modern perceptions of cultural participation and value have developed. The research that I shall be undertaking in South and West Yorkshire will form a part of the historical strand of the wider Understanding Everyday Participation project.
I am interested in discovering how local cultural policy and programming has been utilised to construct and re-construct identity in the urban centres and the communities which grew in South and West Yorkshire as a result of the industrial revolution and which are now coming to terms with the post-industrial age, along with exploring the role that everyday community participation in cultural activity has played in the construction of identity in these places.
My research aims to explore how the growth of industrial towns and cities in South and West Yorkshire contributed to the development of the cultural landscape of the area through the provision of cultural and educational opportunities for the boom populations in these urban centres. In addition, my research will also examine how, in the post-industrial age, when many of these same towns and cities have been struggling with industrial and economic decline, the inclusion of cultural opportunities continues to play such a role in place shaping. My research aims to examine these questions whilst exploring the different manifestations of everyday participation over the period of industrialisation and post-industrialisation within the diverse communities in these areas.
The research will aim to understand how cultural programmes have been utilised in the construction or re-construction of identity within the urban centres to be studied, in particular exploring their use in an assertion of the ‘civility’ of late 19th century regional industrial towns and cities and of the ‘revival’ of post-industrial urban centres in the late 20th/ early 21st centuries.
In-keeping with the aims of the ‘Understanding Everyday Participation – Articulating Cultural Value’ project I also aim to explore how communities are “made, unmade, divided and connected” through participation and how cultural policy and cultural institutions might become more connected with everyday participation.
My research will be continuing until September 2015. Further information about my research, along with contact details for anybody interested in finding out more about the research, can be found here: