Toxic City: industrial residues, the body and community activism as heritage practice in Glasgow

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Abstract

This chapter aims to contribute to the ongoing conversation around toxic heritage with an exploration of community activism and the legacies of industrialization in Glasgow, Scotland. The focus is on campaigns around environmental justice associated with the chemical industry - what one witness described as the ‘chemical Chernobyl’ in the city. The paper aims to deepen the conversation around working class environmentalism, exploring community activism as heritage practice, evaluating how activism engages the toxic heritage of industry and how the industrial past has infused the present. This provides an opportunity to reflect on Laurajane Smith’s idea (Smith 2006) of the ‘authorised heritage discourse’ (AHD) in the context of Glasgow, where we see the virtual erasure of the toxic environment subject from the museums, heritage centres and memorialisation in the city. The essay draws upon a range of sources, including some oral testimonies and storytelling, which constitute a vital but contested strand of the intangible heritage of the city, frequently challenging, in essence, the AHD. Such citizen stories facilitate, as Hilary Orange (2016) has argued, ‘reanimation’ of the industrial past.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationToxic Heritage
Subtitle of host publicationLegacies, Futures, and Environmental Injustice
EditorsElizabeth Kryder-Reid, Sarah May
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Chapter14
Pages239-255
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781003365259
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2023

Keywords

  • environmental justice
  • glasgow
  • community activism
  • chemicals
  • heritage
  • oral history

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