More than ever, the legacy of industry is at the forefront of current events, across the planet and even beyond. Deindustrialisation, but also the refinement of scientific knowledge and techniques of production are redefining our relationship with the environment and with our history. This legacy is no longer solely made up of obsolete machinery and of “castles of industry”: it is the legacy of territories, of knowledge, of social groups, of space stations as much as nuclear facilities and workers’ houses, as well as steel complexes, all of which challenge our views and practices. In the face of profound changes in industry and in its social status—both political and economic—industrial heritage raises issues and offers possibilities that go beyond, from this point on, simple conservation. The transmission of knowledge, the inclusion of people and a renewed humanist perspective on sustainable development are among the possibilities of industrial heritage that are now imperative to call into question.
The theme “INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE RELOADED” is designed to encourage a redeployment of reflections and practices beyond classical “post-industrial” formulations coloured by escheat and obsolescence. It thus aims to further decompartmentalize industrial heritage, as instigated by previous congresses. While reserving a space for discussion on buildings and their conservation, as well as, naturally, on other industrial infrastructure and artefacts, the 2021 TICCIH congress in Montreal is designed to perpetuate and renew research and exchanges on less-discussed areas of industrial heritage, by addressing the identity of industrial civilization from the angle of its representations, culture, territories, of its inheritance (positive or negative) and of their documentation and development.
As such, beyond the manufacturing industry, the congress questions what is “the industrial” in the contemporary world, both in terms of what remains and with regard to current productions: is the knowledge economy an industry? How does the major multinational industryof the 20th century view itself, faced with “castles of the industry” and at the time of its own demise? Beyond a generic narrative on progress, how can we address the legacy of the scientific breakthroughsthat supported its expansion? How to discuss neighbourhoods where the working-class identityis disappearing? Or how, conversely, to preserve the brand of industry in the urban centres that it forged, including modern cities, company towns, or working-class neighbourhoods undergoing significant economic, social, and cultural changes? One can, likewise, question the methods and practices beyond mere preservation: what are the contributions and issues of increasingly popular oral history? What about branding strategies, which have positioned vast requalificationoperations on a planetary scale? How to conciliate environmental assessmentand heritage assessment? How can industrial tourismadapt to the new desires of visitors whose relationship with the industry is more and more distant?
In the wake of such questions, the Congress will enthusiastically welcome especially those proposals of research or intervention on industrial heritage that will bring to discussion, together with a more traditional corpus or a new one, with a specific case or with a more theoretical reflection, themes like:
Functional or symbolic requalification;
Belonging and social acceptability;
Social engagement with the scientific discourse;
Memory and people’s participation;
Uses and aims of heritage;
Environmental challenges of industrial heritage.
These questions and themes aim to thus “reload” the industrial heritage by targeting its social and territorial realities, to reflect on its new or potential identities and to situate it in the changing cultural landscapes or our times.
This XVIII TICCIH Congress considers the manifestations, discourses, policies, and stakes of industrial heritage—as an artifact, a phenomenon, a tool of empowerment; in communities, societies, or any material or mental environment. It seeks to strengthen the investigation and the understanding of industrial heritage as an inclusive topic to be addressed from diverse geographical regions and disciplinary fields, such as public history, memory studies, museology, archaeology, tourism studies, architecture and planning, urban studies, archaeology, geography, sociology, cultural studies, political science, anthropology, ethnology and artistic research. Subthemes range from the legacies of the Second Industrial Revolution to the future of working-class, company towns to heritage-based sustainable development, deindustrialization to issues of urban preservation.
The Canada Research Chair in Urban Heritage of Université du Québec à Montréal, in collaboration with the Association québécoise pour le patrimoine industriel(Quebec association for industrial heritage) and with the support of Tourisme Montréal, will be hosting the 2021 TICCIH Congress in Montreal, from August 30th to September 4th, 2021.