Bringing hidden histories to light

Posted by er134 at Nov 20, 2013 10:06 AM |
Research led by University of Leicester to unlock community engagement with de-industrial public spaces

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 20 November 2013

The changing nature of community ties and bonds through periods of decline and regeneration of urban landscapes will form the focus of a new collaborative research study at the University of Leicester.

Researchers will explore the emotional transitions of communities as they engage with changing uses of de-industrial spaces from the 1970s onwards. These spaces include dance halls, rave venues, alternative clubs and other spaces, some of which have undergone regeneration from the 1970s to the present day.

The collaborative research project, ‘Affective digital histories: Re-creating de-industrial places, 1970s to the present’ has won more than £500,000 worth of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). It will bring together a multidisciplinary team of experts from the University’s departments of Management, Urban History, Geography, Museum Studies and Creative Writing, alongside a researcher from the School of Design at De Montfort University, to study the community impact of  the decline of British manufacturing in the late twentieth century.

Principal Investigator, Dr Ming Lim from the University of Leicester’s School of Management explained: “The key to unlocking hidden stories from this period is to re-create that elusive, and yet precious, ‘feel’ that people had for buildings and places as these changed over time, thus allowing these spaces to come alive again for a new generation of citizens and residents.

“This project aims to bring together existing research on historical and heritage sites that have fallen into disuse and disrepair which are now undergoing some kind of regeneration. The previously untold stories of the emotional connections of individuals and communities using these buildings will form the basis of new knowledge we can all draw upon for a long time to come.”

Leicester’s Cultural Quarter and Glossop’s Howard Town and Whitfield Wards will be the focus of this research which will lead to a digital archive of some of the stories of communities that used, worked and played in these buildings. The researchers will leverage archival material and new media technologies to recreate a uniquely human record of how de-industrial places have changed since the 1970s.

Dr Lim commented: “We are excited to be working closely with our project partners to bring the research to life through locative media, augmented reality applications as well as audio, photo- and videography.”

Gary Grubb, Associate Director of Programmes at AHRC, added: “These new projects demonstrate how the widespread availability of data and digital technologies can be used in creative ways by arts and humanities researchers and communities to work together in the investigation of new research questions and the creation of assets of lasting value for both research and communities.”


Notes to editors:

For more information, please contact Dr Lim via:

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.

AHRC press release:

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