Rust, Regeneration and Romance:

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Keynote: Professor Patrick Martin

Patrick Martin is Professor of Archaeology and Department Chair of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University.  His career has focused on teaching and research in Industrial Archaeology, establishing the only IA graduate program in North America and performing research projects in several US states from Michigan and California to Alaska, as well as the Caribbean and the Norwegian Arctic.  Martin served as the Editor of IA, Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology, as well as the Executive Secretary for SIA, and is currently the President of The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage.

Professor Martin’s talk will be entitled “American Iron and Steel: Evolving Cultural Landscapes.”


Conference Programme now online

The initial draft of the conference programme is now available online. Please note that this is only a first draft and is liable to change so please keep checking back for updates.

Keynote: Dr Dietrich Soyez

Until his retirement in early 2007, Dr Dietrich Soyez served in the Faculty of Science at the University of Cologne for 15 years, including several terms as Departmental Chair. He has acted as President of the Association of Canadian Studies in German-Speaking Countries (1995-1997) and Chair of Germany’s IGU National Committee (2000-2004).

Soyez completed his studies in Germany (Universities of Bonn and Saarbruecken) with a Staatsexamen/State Examination in Geography and Romance Languages in Saarbruecken in 1969. Furthermore, he was awarded a B.A. (Honours) in Geography, French and Ethnography (1966) as well as a Fil.lic. in Physical Geography (1971), followed by a doctorate in Geography (1974) at the University of Stockholm/Sweden.

His second German academic thesis (Habilitation, 1981) was concerned with Environmental Economic Geography. Other current fields of interest are Political Geography and Industrial (Heritage) Tourism.

Dr Soyez has been a visiting professor at Université Laval/Canada (1990), Université de Paris X/France (2003) and Sun Yat-sen University/P.R. of China (2003, 2007 to present), and has been or continues to be a member of the Editorial Boards/Foreign Correspondents’ Committees of several international geographical journals. He has also served in a variety of other international contexts, for instance as a member of the International Evaluation Commission of Human Geography Undergraduate and Graduate Programmes at Swedish universities, an activity formally completed by the Commission’s final report published in 2006.

Professor Soyez’s talk is entitled ‘Uncomfortable Landscapes of our Industrial Pasts: Transnationality and Trauma’:

Uncomfortable Landscapes of our Industrial Pasts:
Transnationality and Trauma

The majority of industrial heritage sites worldwide, and former iron and steel production/processing heritage in particular, can regarded as ‘sanitised’ for two main reasons. First, they are markedly ‘national’ in terms of the politics of their designation, their social legitimacy and normal practices of their interpretation. In this sense, ‘national’ claims are privileged over the actual ’messiness’ of the industrial process which cuts across tidy boundaries and is decidedly transnational in character marked by migrations and movements of people (including invading armies), ideas,  inventions and pollution. Second, industrial heritage sites almost exclusively celebrate the brighter aspects of industrialisation by, for instance focusing on inventive engineers, far-sighted entrepreneurs and creative architects, assumed, for the most part, to working in times of peace, prosperity and progress. Industrial sites and landscapes marked by technological failure, active in times of war or annexation, and overseen by greedy industrialists, power-hungry politicians or fame-thirsty generals, are less common to our narratives of industrial heritage.
In this paper I address transnationality and trauma as being constitutive – and often linked – facets of our industrial heritage. I seek to complement current narratives and the dominant tropes of our industrial past by making visible the concealed and troubled realities of industrial heritage. Drawing upon examples from the industrial landscapes and major steel centres of the Rhine-Ruhr area, as well as case studies from other parts of the world, I offer reflections on the contemporary politics of industrial heritage within the conceptual frameworks of contested heritage and heritage dissonance, as well as offering possible ways of dealing with the realities of transnationality and the truths of trauma.


Keynote: Sir Neil Cossons

Sir Neil Cossons has been active in the fields of industrial archaeology and heritage since the early 1960s. As Director of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum from 1971 to 1983, he was the initiator of the First International Congress on the Conservation of Industrial Monuments held at Ironbridge in 1973 and out of which TICCIH evolved three years later. He was the founder of the Ironbridge Institute, a joint teaching and research institute of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum and the University of Birmingham.

From 1983 to 1986 Neil Cossons was the Director of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and for fourteen years Director of the Science Museum, London. He has served as a non-executive director of British Waterways Board.

He was knighted in 1994 for his work in museums and heritage.

From 2000 until 2007 he was Chairman of English Heritage, the United Kingdom Government’s principal adviser on the historic environment of England. He was involved in the preparation of the United Kingdom Government’s Tentative List of World Heritage sites, published in 1999, and has contributed to several World Heritage nominations. Since 2008 he has been Chairman of the Expert Advisory Committee of the Kyushu Yamaguchi World Heritage Nomination in Japan.

A chairman, chief executive and board member of standing he has advised governments, museums and heritage agencies in a number of countries, conducted peer reviews of scholarship and research, chaired architectural selection panels, and published and broadcast widely on industrial history and archaeology and conservation.

Sir Cossons keynote is entitled ‘Rubble Without a Cause’:

Rubble without a Cause

There is a growing passion for ruins. This voguish new obsession extends beyond the debate on the picturesque and the sublime and Piranesian allegories of degeneration into a more granular rapture – with abandoned places, nightmarish urban decay and toxic industrial sites. It is a gritty fetish – dilettante voyeurism at the periphery, through steam punk and ruin porn, into more hardcore encounters with the depravity of industrial and neighbourhood decline.

Landscapes of iron and steel are part of this. They present provocative challenges. Preservation for their intrinsic value is tough, adaptive reuse as art venues tends inexorably towards the dissembling, but there may be deeper and more cerebral meanings in which the putrefaction of decay becomes the single and most distinctive attribute these places can offer to tomorrow.

For this there is an emergent following – of explorers seeking Armageddon landscapes, and tour operators offering excursions to the unknown, the inaccessible and the treacherous. If popularisation poaches this golden egg then there will always be still more dilapidation in the outer reaches of the post-industrial world beyond the corrupting sanitisation of tourism.

In this lecture Neil Cossons explores the options and dilemmas of landscapes where the powerful texture of decomposition is the attraction – rust, yes; romance, undoubtedly if that’s your bag; but regeneration and the realism that has to attend it is another matter. Beyond any conventional means of conservation, the future for visitors to these lethally unmanaged places sits uneasily with the bland fail-safe realm of visitor attractions. And, in a world where heritage is a four-letter word – jobs – the notion of places that attract precisely because they challenge the conventions of accessibility and regeneration can be difficult to grasp. That all this is culturally repugnant and politically suicidal is, after all, an inherent part of the allure.




Keynote speakers announced

We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers for our international conference are as follows:

Sir Neil Cossons – Chairman of the Expert Advisory Committee of the Kyushu Yamaguchi World Heritage Nomination in Japan
Professor Patrick Martin – President of TICCIH
Professor Dietrich Soyez – Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography, University of Cologne

We look forward to welcoming them in July. Further details about their talks will be released shortly.

Registration is now open

Registration for our international conference, Rust, Regeneration and Romance: Iron and Steel Landscapes and Cultures, is now open.

To register please click here.

The cost of attending the conference is as follows:

– Early bird discount – £200 (available until 1 May 2013)

– Full rate – £245

– PhD students (letter of confirmation required from Supervisor) – £150

This rate includes access to all sessions, the pre-conference welcome reception and the choice of afternoon visits. Your fee also includes all lunches, tea and coffee breaks, delegate pack and CD of conference proceedings (available after the conference). For those delegates staying in one of our partner hotels, complimentary transport will be available between the hotel and conference venue at points during each day.

Please note: Conference speakers and delegates are responsible for booking and paying their own accommodation. This does not fall under the responsibility of the organisers or within the delegate rate for the conference.

Any queries should be directed to

Study Visits

As part of the conference package, delegates have a choice of three study visits during their time at Ironbridge. Take a look at the above tab for further details of the tours that have been confirmed for Rust, Regeneration and Romance 2013.