History-making in an unequal present: Three perspectives on migration pasts in the North East of England

Wieser, Leonie (2019) History-making in an unequal present: Three perspectives on migration pasts in the North East of England. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis investigates how knowledge about the past matters for specific actors in the present, as well as for wider society. It examines the motivations and positioning of academic, museum and bottom-up knowledge-makers to consider how their perspectives add to our understanding of the past, as well as the functions of histories in a structurally unequal society. In the academic literature, the knowledge-claims of bottom-up perspectives, and the positioning of this knowledge as of public concern, have not been investigated thoroughly, nor have the specific effects in the present of these different practices of knowledge-making about the past been fully examined. A comparative approach to knowledge-making in academic, museum and bottom-up settings elucidates how knowledge and power interact in an unequal present. To answer these questions, this thesis has identified examples of each perspective, using the case study of migration to the North East of England. It employs a critical qualitative methodology including interviews, participant observation and text analysis of knowledge-makers and their products in all three fields. This thesis found that while the academic perspective presented its knowledge-making as more detached than the other two perspectives, all three approaches considered knowledge about the past as having use in the present, either intellectually or practically. It further found that varying conceptions of what issues counted as important to wider society, and thus public, had potentially negative effects in terms of people’s access to the public sphere. The histories produced by all three perspectives, and their practices, were found to have wider implications. Especially the bottom-up perspective aimed to transform wider structures of knowledge-making as well as the societal valorisation of specific pasts. These findings are important in understanding the practices of history-making as having specific – perpetuating or challenging -– functions within wider societal structures of racism and inequality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: public history, heritage, museums, feminist activism, bottom-up history
Subjects: L700 Human and Social Geography
V200 History by area
V300 History by topic
V900 Others in Historical and Philosophical studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2020 10:09
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 19:51
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/42067

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