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Title: Railways and commemoration : anniversaries, commemorative cultures and the making of railway history in Britain
Author: Vohra, Sophie
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 5131
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2020
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Since the nineteenth century, communities connected to the railways industry have and continue to show a strong interest in their history and heritage. While historians of technology and industry are increasingly examining the wider impact of these inventions and innovations, there is room to analyse how the different facets of the railways have impacted social relationships and encounters, and how this self-reflection has been translated into commemorative practice. Examining the different customs and traditions that were created to celebrate railway history, and signalled toward its developments in the present and future, offers a unique insight into how the past has shaped and reshaped the identities of railway communities and the industry more broadly. Commemoration, or the performative use of history and social memory, is the central concept of the thesis. This involves a number of revolving spheres of actions and thoughts that come together to define and shape the functions of these practices. Focussing on this practice as a social phenomenon, this thesis examines the forms and functions of commemorations of the British railway industry from the nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century. Taking examples from a range of communities and geographical locations, it analyses how and why narratives about the history of the industry have been strategically mobilised through commemorative practices, from larger national practices down to the cultures that functioned for smaller communities. These include commemorations by and for railway companies and unions, personal celebrations of friends and colleagues, events organised for enthusiasts and interest groups, commemorative practices about and supported by heritage organisations, and celebrations of symbols of the industry. Overall, this thesis argues that commemoration is an important tool for socialising the narratives and temporality of British railways, and illuminates how and why communities associated with this industry engaged with their shared history.
Supervisor: Cubitt, Geoffrey ; Bartholomew, Ed Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available