...looks to be a fascinating upcoming conference on steel's role in transforming cities and individual lives. This event seems particularly significant right now. GM's troubles are wreaking havoc on the lives of workers and retirees, and Mike (who is from Detroit) just reminded me of the historically close relationship between the auto industry and the steel industry, as well as the historically close relationships between the labor unions for both those industries.
Steel Cities: Tradition, Transition and Transformation
For nearly two centuries steel has been the fundamental building block of modernity, revolutionising the lives of millions. From its use in building and construction, in weapons production, to its role in the home kitchen, the transformative power of steel is undeniable.
At all stages of its life-cycle, steel impacts upon communities, regions and nations. As China and India race to modernise their economies with imported steel, many cities across Europe and North America are still struggling to cope with the transition from productive to consumptive economies. The focus of this conference is upon the ways in which economies and societies, lives, landscapes and relationships have been, and continue to be, transformed by steel.
The 'Steel Cities' conference will bring together academics and professionals from a wide range of disciplines to explore the ways by which steel has impacted upon people, places and pasts and how it continues to shape lives and relationships in the context of local and global change. It will take place in Sheffield, England's most famous 'Steel City', and will be led by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University in collaboration with a number of partners who are interested in discussing their research and sharing and disseminating good practice. The conference will be multi- disciplinary drawing from architecture, history, sociology, anthropology, ethnology, cultural studies, geography, tourism studies, museum studies, ethnology, linguistics, economics etc.
Themes of interest to the conference include:
* Labour relations and working environments in the steel sector
* The uses of steel in contemporary life
* Histories and ethnographies of steel communities
* Identity and belonging in 'steel cities'
* Representations of steel and the steel industry in the 'popular' media
* The role of the cultural industries (arts, sport, tourism, etc.)in the regeneration of 'steel cities'
* The languages of steel cities
* Heritages of the steel industry
* Symbolic economies of steel - iconography, art and design
On a more poetic note, I'm reminded irrestibly of Detroiter Sufjan Stevens' ode to Illinois, and to Superman, the most famous citizen of Metropolis:
Took my bags, Illinois Dreamt the lake took my boy Man of Steel, Man of Heart Turn your ear to my part There are things you have said Raise the boat, and raise the dead If you take us away Still can we say:
Only a steel man can be a lover If he had hands to tremble all over We celebrate our sense of each other We have a lot to give one another