Using Culture and Heritage to Heal Ruptured Place Identities in South Wales, UK

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Ellie BYRNE, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
Eva ELLIOTT, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
This paper looks at the role that culture, arts and heritage play in developing a shared identity in a region of South Wales in the United Kingdom. This region is historically divided, with deep ruptures and tensions between different localities and communities. These are exacerbated by the geography of the region, which is a series of distinct Valleys, all flowing down to the City which was historically one of the most important industrial global ports for iron, coal and steel. The Valleys communities which served the City became populated due to the rich natural resources and resulting industrial exploitation of the land. The large and prosperous City, which is now the Capital City of Wales, only exists because of the industry and wealth created by the riches contained in those Valley communities. Poverty, ill health and economic decline have besieged many of these communities whilst the capital has been seen to benefit from increasing investment and wealth, attracting people away from the Valleys into employment. Simultaneously, poverty and ill health exist in certain communities within the City, adding to the divisions and ruptured identity the region as a whole suffers.

This paper explores some of these historic divides, and asks how heritage, culture and the arts might facilitate the development of a shared sense of place-identity across the City Region, up to and including the Valleys communities and those communities within the City that feel underserved by the wealth flowing into and out of the Capital. We draw on a number of studies and activities supported by Cardiff University’s Strong Communities, Healthier People project, and a new Cultural Participation Research Network to emerge from this work.