Department of Business Humanities and Law

Seminar with Nancy Harding, University of Bath

Traumas of industrialisation: never to be forgotten?

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - 10:00 to 11:30

Seminar with Nancy Harding, University of Bath

Nancy Harding will give a talk on:

“Traumas of industrialisation: never to be forgotten?”

Abstract: Britain was the first country to industrialise, and from the mid-18th century onwards millions of people found themselves uprooted from the small towns and villages that had been their homes and subjected to the new regimes of the factory, mine and smelting works. The work was dehumanising and dangerous and their living conditions were vile and degrading. They lived the life Marx described of having to work in order to live, but having no life beyond work. That ‘work’ was traumatic, and that ‘life’ often desperate. This all seems like history, at least in the countries of Western Europe, but in this paper I aim to develop a theory of how that trauma, and the resistance it generated, continues to inform the identity constructions of the descendants of those first generations of industrial workers. I will use a case study of the South Wales Valleys for this argument. Wales has been described as the first of England’s colonies, a narrative that is important to this paper’s arguments. From the 1820s the Valleys’ rich seams of coal and iron ore and the people brought in to work them were ruthlessly exploited. The uprisings by the largely Welsh-speaking workers against the largely English-speaking owning-class were often ruthlessly suppressed. The Welsh language was reviled, its speakers regarded as tainted. Today the mines and ironworks have closed, the area is one of the poorest in Europe, but the Welsh language, after being replaced by English, is resurgent. This paper is inspired by Kathleen Stewart’s Ordinary Affects (2007), Katherine Angel’s Unmastered (2012) and feminist research methods that regard the self as an archive. My thesis is that traumatic memories are passed down through the generations through mechanisms that are beyond but buried within words, that resonate in the psyche and whose passage way is via the skin and the bones, and that, although almost beyond language, are constitutive of identities.

Bio: Nancy Harding works at the University of Bath’s School of Management. Her job title is Professor of Human Resource Management, an unfortunate title for someone who is against management, loathes the idea that people are ‘resources’, but is interested in ‘the human’.  She started her working life aged 16 as a typist and worked on production lines in factories before becoming a mature student at the then University of Wales (Cardiff) where she stayed on to study for a Ph.D. She worked at the universities of Swansea, Leeds and Bradford before moving to Bath in 2017. Her research and teaching focus on critical approaches to understanding organizations, and her particular interest is working lives.  She has published papers in many of the expected academic journals, including Human Relations, Organization Studies, Jo. Management Studies, Organization, etc. Her books include a trilogy that explore the manager (Routledge, 2003), the employee (Routledge, 2013) and, eventually, the organization (Routledge, forthcoming on a date that keeps slipping into the future). She is co-author of books on the social construction of dementia (Harding and Palfrey, 1997), leadership as identity (Ford, Harding and Learmonth, 2008) and, with Marianna Fotaki, on feminism and 21st century organization studies (Routledge, 2017). Her greatest accolade to date came from her grandsons, who used to think that she was ‘amazing’. Now grown, they are far more discriminating and no longer think she walks on water.

This seminar is co-hosted by Associate Professor Justine Grønbæk Pors in relation to the research project, Gendered formations of educational interests and aspirations in primary and secondary schooling, funded by Independent Research Fund Denmark, and The Diversity and Difference Platform at Copenhagen Business School.

The seminar does not require registration and is open for attendance through the following Zoom-link:
Time: Jan 18, 2022, 10:00 AM Copenhagen

The page was last edited by: Department of Business Humanities and Law // 01/13/2022