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Washing lines, whinberries and reworking ‘waste ground’: Women’s affective practices and a haunting within the haunting of the UK coalfields.

Ivinson, Gabrielle and Bright, Nigel (2019) Washing lines, whinberries and reworking ‘waste ground’: Women’s affective practices and a haunting within the haunting of the UK coalfields. Journal of Working-Class Studies, 4 (2). pp. 125-139. ISSN 2475-4765

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Abstract

This article reflects on a series of ‘Ghost lab’ events (Bright, 2019) with local people where creative memory work – stimulated by songs, films, and readings from a pack of what we have called a “Community Tarot’ cards (our main focus here) – was used to register aspects of what, following Gordon (2008), we are calling a ‘social haunting’ of former coal-mining communities in the north of England and the valley communities of south Wales. The events were part of a joint 2018-19 research project called Song lines on the road – Life lines on the move! (On the Road for short) that sought to share two independent strands of longitudinal, co-produced, arts-based research in which we have developed approaches aimed at amplifying how living knowledge flows on in communities even when the shocks and intensities of lived experience defy articulation and representation. During the last decade or so both of us have worked with artists to co-produce research projects that enable young people and marginalised adults to communicate with and challenge authority by drawing on the affective power of art. Independently of each other until now, we have both been using creative/affective methodologies to understand how gendered circuits of affect both reproduce and reconfigure vernacular bonds of solidarity and practices of wellbeing in multiply impoverished coalfield communities.

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