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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 2.104
Labours lost: Industrial afterlives in EU funded landscapes
Some miles outside a small Welsh town (beyond regular dog walking distance), a long, flat, brick structure rises ivy-clad from the undergrowth. It is a railway platform, station amputated, still awaiting trains that have not run in half a century. This paper begins with that platform, among the material remains of industrial infrastructure; it ends with a Welsh majority voting to leave the European Union. Both, I argue, are haunted by loss: that of labouring pasts, and that of lost labours. I use ‘labour’ here in a deliberately doubled sense, referring to the distant shadows of industrial work and to more recent labours to regenerate Wales’ post-industrial landscapes of deprivation. Lost industry haunts the present failings so often simply called ‘Welsh problems’ – and yet regeneration work becomes loss, too. Along the lost railway, EU funding flags also fade into the undergrowth, memorialising the once celebrated transformation of defunct infrastructure into leisure space. While the failure of two decades of EU funding to stir Welsh voter affect is now mourned as lost opportunity, I argue that the literal paving of labouring pasts into a purportedly leisured present fails to comprehend a far deeper loss. Building on my continuing research into industrial afterlives, I seek to uncover what a railway reveals about being haunted by lost labours and labour’s loss.