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Feeling together: emotion, heritage, conviviality and politics in a changing city

Payson, Alida ORCID: 2018. Feeling together: emotion, heritage, conviviality and politics in a changing city. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis explores how feelings affect the politics of living together in a de-industrialized, post-colonial city. Over the past few decades, Cardiff, a former coal port marked by generations of migration, has stuttered through redevelopment, entrenching inequalities and moulting unevenly into a future as a cosmopolitan capital. In places like Cardiff marked by troubled pasts, a recent body of research has turned to how moods – melancholia, hurt, anxiety, and nostalgia – stick around in the present and move people in ways that are not well understood. I argue that to explore these questions, and to understand the chimeric ways power moves in the present, requires a turn away from discourse and particularly from the vexed ethics of ‘voice’, to emotions, affects, and how bodies move and are moved. This thesis therefore addresses a resurgent interest in politics, conviviality and emotion. It does so through a study of four community-based cultural heritage projects and archives. It follows three groups of girls and women ages 11-82 who took part in arts and heritage projects about women’s history around Cardiff’s former docklands, along with a collection of popular documentary photographs of life in the area, shot in the 1950s and 1980s, and recently recovered. In this thesis, taking all four sites as performative, I trace emotion in feeling words, materials, and patterns, from textiles to photographs to oral histories, in order to understand how feelings about the past and the imaginary of community – the conceptual possibilities that emerge for living together – might move in them. In particular, I chart four themes: 1) how to labour at the care, mixing and shared ‘sweet’ feelings necessary to stick collectivities together; 2) how to turn fury into fight, putting to use ‘ugly feelings’ (Ngai 2007) dredged up by violence past and present; 3) how to relish and set alight feelings of melancholy and loss; and 4) how to model or recoil from a certain kind of ‘becoming young woman’ (McRobbie 2007), and ‘becoming’ future. In a rapidly transfiguring present, the thesis argues that it is by tuning into emotion – emotional labour to move others, affective labour on the self, and collective work on mood – that we might better understand the politics of living together.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 January 2018
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2022 10:36

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