The Possibilities of Emptiness: Working with the Echoes of Industrial Culture.
The whole of the heritage sector presents society with a series of challenges that accord with the differing values that we place upon heritage, particularly in an economic climate that dictates that we can longer afford to keep all that we inherit and with changing social tastes and trends.
Industrial heritage is particularly challenged as it is frequently seen to less aesthetically pleasing, is complicated to maintain, is often politically rejected and loaded with negative social and cultural meanings. However, the remains of the industrial past can present creative and outstanding possibilities for addressing contemporary economic and social problems.
In the presentation I explore such possibilities and argue that the challenges brought about by financial stringency and economic stagnation can be met by working with the materiality and spirit of industrial culture, though the key to this lies in the ways in which industrial heritage is conserved, communicated and integrated into wider strategies for socio-economic development.
Professor Mike Robinson holds the Chair of Cultural Heritage at the University of Birmingham, UK and is Director of the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage. He was previously Founder and Director of the Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change. Mike is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, and founder and Editor of the Tourism and Cultural Change Book Series. For the past 22 years
Mike’s work has focused upon the relations between heritage, tourism, culture and he has published numerous books, articles and chapters on the various ways in which these realms intersect. Mike is a long standing member of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Tourism, Culture and Development, a former member of the Culture Committee of the UK National Commission for UNESCO and a Board member/Trustee of the Council for British Research in the Levant, an Institute of the British Academy.
Mike was a Government appointed member of the UK’s Expert Panel to determine the UK’s Tentative List for World Heritage in 2010-2011. He was recently appointed to the UNESCO Expert Panel to assist with the development of a Programme in World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism. He is a Visiting Professor at National Taiwan University and Visiting Fellow at the University of Illinois. He is Board member of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. Among Mike’s research interests are the ways in which industrial heritage is constructed and consumed in post-industrial societies.
He is presently investigating Taiwan’s Industrial Heritage from the Japanese Colonial period and is working on a project on resilient tradition and industrial re-use in Sheffield UK. He has undertaken work on heritage projects in India, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Taiwan and Austria and has worked on tourism related projects in a further 30 countries. Mike has organised over 20 major international conferences.