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The Durham Miners Gala: Incongruous Heritage on Parade

When Oct 01, 2019
from 03:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Where McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge
Contact Name
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Cambridge Heritage Research Seminar


The Durham Miners Gala: Incongruous Heritage on Parade


Dr Helaine Silverman

Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois
Director, CHAMP (Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy


Seminar Room, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Downing Street, Cambridge


Coal mining was a horrific occupation, rife with physical danger, occupational disease and heartless labour exploitation by mine owners. Mining communities were commonly stigmatized and, most notoriously in the year of the Great Strike, vilified and brutalized. Yet for the miners this was a profession that generated tremendous male comraderie and pride in work, close-knit communities, strong families, deep faith, perseverance, and political action in the face of harsh conditions. The most public expression of the miners' spirit of resistance and action was and still is the Durham Miners Gala, which just celebrated its 135th year. Animated by the glorious banners that traditionally represent the pit village, the "Big Meeting" continues in the absence of the industry that generated it and in the absence of the physical landscape that supported it. This talk introduces the concept of incongruous heritage to understand the seemingly contradictory processes and discourses implicated in the Gala and its survival for more than a century.


Durham Miners Gala

CHRC Written Logo

The CHRC is a collaboration of six departments. This is symbolized through six stripes in Cambridge Blue in the CHRC logo. The mesh-work arising from the darker stripes represents the collaboration of the CHRC and the heritage field at large.