Afternoon all. A belated post from a while back – I must get into a more rigid routine with posts! Even if it’s just a jumble of words and thoughts. So here is a post from early June:
I’ve had a great morning drinking coffee with my mum and a dear new friend Helen who I met at a two-day ethnography workshop where researchers came together and talked about their research experiences of doing ethnographic fieldwork (spending time hanging out with people basically-!). Helen asked me how plans for my own project were shaping up , and so I talked about where I’m at right now with it all, with my probation review on June 25th and my move to Glasgow 5 days after that, it was good to take some time to talk and think things through before I go to Glasgow again for more meetings.
Also, it made me realise how slack I’ve been on here recently and so I thought I’d fill you in on what’s been going on in the world and in my head.
SO: I’ve gone from the spider-diagram below at the VERY beginning, to the diagram below that which was made in my first supervision, to other mind-maps below THAT which were all aiming to further focus my project idea and the questions I wanted to work with. So I’ve gone from wellbeing, craft, music and everyday participation – to
place-making practices and everyday participation – to
migration and place and participation – to
generational differences of constructing, negotiating and maintaining ethnic identity in place – to
heritage, migration and negotiating ethnic identity in Glasgow through everyday participation
(the note of THINGS ARE SIMPLE in the left corner is unrelated to the content of the rest of the spider-diagram, I don’t think identity work, migration and heritage are simple-! It was more just a reminder than when life gets a bit tough and muddled and busy, that there are things which are more simple than I am allowing them to be at the moment – a good lesson I think)
So, in the past couple of weeks, my work has now taken on a bigger context of representations of heritage. Initially, what with the Scottish Nationalist Party winning all 7 seats in Glasgow on May 7th, I had factored support for the SNP in there too and considering national identity and Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) involvement in the SNP and what this means for rethinking what a Scottish National identity looks like, but in my last supervision we decided to let this emerge if people talk about it, rather than focusing too much on the SNP. So this work will respond more closely to a report that the Heritage Lottery Fund released in 2012 which showed that 92% of the people who took part in the Glasgow branch of the project called ’20 years in 12 places’ thought that the heritage of the city made it a better place to live. I’m really interested in whose stories make up these tales of the past and belonging.
Here are the questions I’m interested in thinking about:
- Through everyday practice and participation, how do migrants and the children and grandchildren of migrants construct, negotiate and maintain ethnic identity in Glasgow?
- What is the role of ‘heritage’, memory and the imagination in this process for these different generations?
- Where do migrant and ethnic minority narratives fit into understandings and representations of Glasgow’s heritage?
So there you go-!
I think constructions and representations of particular groups in formal ‘cultural’ institutions have a tendency to homogenise particular groups, and often miss the nuances of expressions of cultural value that exist in their everyday practices and participation.
Heritage is a political tool very often used to construct an official narrative of the past, which can then be used in the present to mould a particular narrative of national belonging, often seeing marginal voices left out of this dominant narrative, even if they have contributed to the city being the way it is today.
The everyday can be seen as a site for challenging the power exercised over representations of heritage and national belonging in the city, as it is in this space – which although affected by representations that exist (or not) within places like museums and art galleries and the possibilities (or not) to participate in these spaces – new narratives of belonging and heritage can come to be.
If dominant stories exclude certain voices, this only serves to continue this process of exclusion, and so these voices must be recognised as being part of the main chorus of a place, rather than being simply attached to the dominant heritage and place identity representations that exist.
That said, it might be that there is more of a complex working out of heritage which doesn’t manifest in a simple ‘dominant heritage’ model in Glasgow, and I need to think more critically about some of the theories I am using.
So, that’s where I’m at right now. I’ve got to get more clued up about the context of different ethnic groups arrivals in Glasgow, and keep reading about what’s going on in the city regarding heritage work (the Glasgow Women’s Library have done some really interesting alternative heritage walks in the city some of which I will go on during my next visit, to see how other representations of Glasgow’s heritage attempt to tell ‘alternative’ heritages in the city. the WSREC has also done some fascinating-sounding work where they have carried out volunteer-led heritage walks in the city.
Whilst being interested in work that wants to tell more local, smaller scale stories of the multiple individual memories of the city, exploring the idea that heritage can be polyvocal, it is also really important for me, and as such I’ve decided to let the whole Scottish National conversation emerge if it does, rather than pushing for it.
And so on with the journey-!