Interrogating the Unequal Gendered Legacy of Work in an Industrial Heritage Landscape
20 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2018
Date Written: July 4, 2018
Over the past decade scholars have noted that gender has either been 'overlooked in discussions of heritage' (Smith 2008, 165) or reduced to 'a focus on women'. Accordingly Reading (2015: 401) argued for consideration not only of 'whose identities are being "represented and reinforced"', but also the consequences of 'representing a primarily masculine perspective'. The aim of this paper is to highlight how this masculine perspective been transmitted and reinforced over time through different 'vehicles of memory' (Confino 1997, 1386). It begins by examining the way masculinity has infused assessments of industrial and industrial heritage significance of one particular case study site. It then considers the memories of retired male workers who were employed there during World War Two when the predominantly male workforce was augmented by women munition workers. Finally, it explores how the 'androcentric assumptions and messages' (Smith 2008, 167) evident in assessments of significance and the gendered assumptions and values evident in the male workers' memory narratives have been naturalised and legitimated in proposals for the site's heritage interpretation.
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