CFP: Rust, Regeneration and Romance: Iron and Steel Landscapes and Cultures

Rust, Regeneration and Romance: Iron and Steel Landscapes and Cultures
10-14 July 2013, Ironbridge, UK

For centuries iron and steel have been the fundamental building blocks of
modernity. These metals and the technologies, societies and cultures
surrounding them have revolutionised the lives of billions of people. From
the earliest functional usage of iron in domestic life, to decorative cast
iron, from weapons to knives and forks and from the use of high tensile
steels in buildings around the world to the stainless steels of space
exploration, the transformative power of iron and steel is undeniable. This
capacity to transform extends to the landscapes and cultures which have
themselves been transformed through the mining, production, processing and
consumption of iron and steel. As China and India race to modernise their
economies with imported iron and steel, many cities across Europe and North
America are still struggling with the decline in production and manufacture.
In many parts of Europe former centres of iron and steel production have
undergone regeneration and now form part of the tourism economy. Rust has
gained currency as part of industrial heritage. Still, in many parts of the
developing world, ideas of heritage lie very much in the future, as
communities continue to work in the mining of iron ore and the production
and fabrication of steel.

This conference seeks to engage in an open multi-disciplinary analysis of
iron and steel landscapes and cultures, from the ancient to the modern. It
looks toward the legacies of both production and consumption and how these
metals have influenced all aspects of social life. We wish to explore the
relationships that communities, regions, nations share with iron and steel
through its functional use, creative and artistic use and its symbolic use.
Indicative questions the conference will address are: How are economies and
societies transformed by the extraction and processing of iron? How does the
environmental impact and legacy of iron and steel sites shape social and
political life? How do governments and communities deal with both the
expansion and decline of the iron and steel industries? What are the forms
and formats of regeneration for iron and steel landscapes and communities?
To what extent are global communities connected through iron and steel,
economically and culturally? How have the landscapes and cultures of iron
and steel found expression through various art forms? How are these
landscapes managed and understood?

The conference welcomes academics from the widest range of disciplines and
wishes to act as a forum for exchange between the sciences, social sciences
and the humanities. The conference will draw from anthropology, archaeology,
art history, architecture, engineering, ethnology, heritage studies,
history, geography, landscape studies, linguistics, metallurgy, museum
studies, sociology, tourism studies etc. The conference will take place at
the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.

Indicative themes of interest to the conference include:
.            Understanding iron and steel landscapes – historic and
contemporary perspectives
.             Human – technology relationships
.             Challenges in the presentation and interpretation of iron and
steel heritage
.             Touring and tourism in iron and steel landscapes
.             Histories and ethnographies of iron and steel communities –
labour relations and working environments
.             Architectural tropes surrounding mining and fabrication
.             Representations of iron and steel cultures in the ‘popular’
.             The ‘cultural industries’ (arts, sport, tourism, etc.) in the
regeneration of iron and steel communities
.             Languages of steel cities – dialects and territories
.             Symbolic economies of iron and steel – iconography, art and

Abstracts of 300 words with a clear title should be sent as soon as possible
but no later than January 31st 2013 to<>.
Please be sure to include your full contact details.
Information will be updated on the website

With best wishes

Professor Mike Robinson
Chair of Cultural Heritage
University of Birmingham


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