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Swan Songs? Reconsidering the Death of Industrial Britain (ca. 1970-1990)

17-18 October 2013

Convened by Jörg Arnold (Freiburg / Nottingham) in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London

Venue: German Historical Institute London

In 2014 it will be 30 years since the start of the great miners’ strike of 1984/5. The bitter industrial dispute, pitting the National Union of Mineworkers against management, the Thatcher government, and sections of its very own constituency, is often considered a watershed in contemporary British history. In Avner Offer’s memorable phrase, the strike marked the ‘proletarians’ last stand’, giving symbolic expression to the final demise of a model of industrial organisation and concomitant ways of life that had been characteristic of British society for over a century. Taking the looming anniversary as a point of departure, the workshop aims to bring together historians working on contemporary British history in order to re-examine critically the economic, political, social and cultural causes and consequences of the ‘death’ of industrial Britain, and to re-evaluate the overarching narratives that have been put forward by the social sciences and a budding historiography as explanations of these seismic changes. In order to add to what appears to be an often woefully London and elite-centred approach, particular emphasis will be placed on regional and other ‘marginal’ perspectives.

There is no fee to attend the workshop, but please register with Carole Sterckx by 11 October (sterckx(ghi) stating your affiliation

Workshop programme (PDF file)
Conference report (PDF file), published in: GHIL Bulletin 36 (2014), Vol 1