Volume 12, No. 3, Art. 3 – September 2011

The Memory of Work and the Future of Industrial Heritage: New Issues Five Years Later1)

Juan José Castillo

Abstract: In recent years there has been a revitalization and even creation of archives related to the world of work, including those generated by social actors of production, as well as by exchanges and services, such as private or public companies, cooperatives, professional associations, trade unions, political parties, guilds and employer's entities, mutual societies and labor law firms amongst others. In this context and from the perspective of industrial archeology what I want to point out in this article is what I perceive and endorse as a change of emphasis in society: the memory of work, a fundamental part of industrial culture, recovers again the value and preeminence it deserves. I will further critically reflect on what my research group has done and will finally consider the advances and difficulties of a research project aiming at the study and eventual recovery and preservation of the memory of work inside industrial heritage.

Key words: work culture; workers and enterprises' archives; intangible patrimony; The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage; research on memory and culture

Table of Contents

1. Introduction and Context

2. Object and Method: Field Work Theoretically Oriented to Study Memory of Work and Culture of Work

3. The Link: Industrial Archeology and Industrial Heritage, an Inseparable Continuum

4. The Action: Fighting Against Garbage Can and Bulldozer

Appendix: Some Webpages






1. Introduction and Context

An interdisciplinary trend has emerged in recent years aiming at the revitalization, rearrangement and at times creation, of archives of the world of work. In this context and from the perspective of industrial archeology what I want to point out in this article is what I perceive and endorse as a change of emphasis in society: the memory of work, a fundamental part of industrial culture, recovers again the value and prominence it deserves. I will further critically reflect on what my research group has done and I will finally consider the advances and difficulties of a research project aiming at the study and eventual recovery and preservation of the memory of work inside industrial heritage. [1]

In 2003, during a Universidad Complutense Course about the memory of work and the future of heritage, we reached a turning point in the already long-term process of studying men and women at work and considering their living conditions. This turning point has become a fundamental aspect of the recovery of industrial environments and installations. The paper I presented at that event synthesized ten years' work concerning theory and field research, mine and others'. At that moment, the paper emerged as a research program, a target framework, and an updating of the most important available bibliography from very different fields and disciplines, including industrial archeology, museum studies, anthropology, history, sociology, geography and town planning (CASTILLO, 2004a, 2004b). [2]

Initially adopted to justify a change of paradigm, the paper has been widely disseminated, both internationally and in Spain; it has further inspired an International Seminar on the memory of work, held at the Universal Forum of Cultures in Barcelona, in June 2004. This event was sponsored by The International Committee for de Conservation of Industrial Heritage (TICCIH) and was chaired by his then President, Eusebi CASANELLES. Among the participants were Françoise BOSMAN, Director of the Archives du Monde du Travail in France, Gladis COLLAZO, from Cuba and the Director of the Museum of Work in Denmark. Thanks to the invaluable contribution of Professor Antonio Miguel BERNAL, who added his accurate knowledge as a historian committed to concrete reality, the paper was redrafted and discussed at the "Cultures of Work" Roundtable, brilliantly hosted by Julián SOBRINO in the Foro de Arquitectura Industrial de Andalucía [Industrial Architectural Forum of Andalucía] in 2005. The paper further benefited from the participation of around twenty professionals from different fields and specializations. [3]

A first version of the original text, which had been previously discussed in several scientific events, was published thanks to the insistence and editorial advice of Louis BERGERON and Maria Teresa PONTOIS2). Later on, the unabridged version was added to this dissemination, published in the journal Sociología del Trabajo, 52. Finally, the paper was added as a chapter in the book "La soledad del trabajador globalizado [The Loneliness of the Globalized Worker]" (CASTILLO, 2008)3). From 2007 onwards, and as a way of disseminating an analytical perspective that prioritizes the presence of the memory of work in the industrial heritage, while linking it closely to contemporary productive, industrial, economic and social transformations, I have carried out several initiatives, including this FQS article where I present a synthesis of the problems we currently face. [4]

The first of these initiatives has been to put together and publish the long series of research work I have carried out about the productive restructuring and division of labor, together with my concerns about the analysis and preservation of industrial heritage. My most recent outcome in this sense is the publication of the already mentioned book "La soledad del trabajador globalizado" (CASTILLO, 2008). Secondly, I have tested the validity of this approach, which joins both perspectives and knowledge from sociology, history and industrial archeology, in a kind of experimental teaching, according to the new proposals of the European Higher Education Area at the Universidad Complutense. This initiative actually became a four-month course, called "Fábricas que cierran: la memoria del trabajo y el patrimonio industrial [Closing Factories: Memory of Work and Industrial Heritage]." Apart from the students of sociology and political sciences, the course was attended by two exceptional "students" from the Lenbur Foundation. Finally, I convened the session "Closing Factories: How to Preserve the Culture of Work and Industrial Heritage" at the XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, "Sociology on the move," that took place in Sweden in 2010. My conference paper there included some of the principal arguments that I discuss in the synthesized version of this article. In doing this I particularly emphasize new problems as my contribution to this FQS Special Issue on Archives and Biographical Research. [5]

2. Object and Method: Field Work Theoretically Oriented to Study Memory of Work and Culture of Work4)

Let us start by setting out what we understand by memory of work, as this concept is commonly used in a rather vague and descriptive way: not all authors talk about the same thing and this leads to trivializations as well as confusions. Explaining the term therefore goes beyond the need for terminological clarifications or academics discussions that try to delimit a particular territory around it; it rather becomes a foundation that can guide policies for heritage recovery. The notion memory of work examines the future of heritage, raising a simple, but decisive, question: where is work in heritage to be found? Answering this question is crucial for the project of heritage recovery. Think for example about thematic parks: they often emerge as isolated fragments of a productive environment that surprise the passers-by, but without any meaningful context. Moreover, the memory of work(as a concept) should not be seen from a merely methodological point of view, as it is the case with the current trend that identify the memory or culture of work with oral sources, oral histories, or biographies. [6]

What we therefore want to discuss is something which is crucially at risk from an epistemological point of view, albeit patently obvious for the researcher used to doing field work. Our bet is to counteract the trend of making work and workers disappear from the productive scenes, along with entrepreneurial strategies. There is indeed a tendency from some researchers to become dazzled in front of the cadre bâti, (i.e., of the equipment or devices), or in front of misunderstood fragments of the past, without making the effort to reconstruct the productive process or the network in which the workplace was embedded. As Emilia PARDO BAZÁN (n.d, p.3) has aptly put it: marveling at a fabric without knowing if silk is produced by a tree or by a worm. To sum up, we identify the problem of dealing with pieces, fragments, buildings or remains and traces that are uprooted and contextless. The question is not trifling, as we will see. It has been underlined by an admired anthropologist in an exceptional book about mining communities, where he argued that this dazzle is underpinning and responsible for a pejorative view of workers. It is "a product—he wrote—of the academic fixation on 'technologies and machines' that leads to the exclusion of any interest in the social dimensions of mining communities" (GARCÍA, 1996, p.15). [7]

We want to place ourselves in a diametrically opposite position. It is one thing to use all available information sources (where possible), and another thing to configure a research problem and contextualize it in the area of work in heritage. Here, the epistemological profile of the researcher is as important as the sources themselves. You can have the traces, the evidence, the data, in front of your eyes and still not be able to see them and even less to interpret them. In this sense, it is obvious that oral sources are first class resources in order to recover the memory of work, together with companies' archives, graphic documentation, the machinery, printed material and press articles, if any. As it has been noted by two Spanish researchers in a magnificent study about the sugar industry of Motril:

"in contrast to the relative abundance of material rests, it is not much that we know about work processes, and about the labor or life of those doing them. These 'ins' and 'outs' of everyday history just remain in the memory of those who lived them and that memory is a valuable source of information" (PIÑAR & GIMÉNEZ, 1996, p.20). [8]

But we can find out more by interpreting the sources. For example, in a forgotten Report published in 1845, Ramón De La SAGRA, a prolific author whom I would consider the first Spanish sociologist, not only informs and describes the localization of factories, but also describes—with the authority of his work—the "old-fashioned and vicious" procedures and the "present state of sugar manufacture" (p.58), and further suggests solutions for some of the main problems of this industry. The problem De La SAGRA finds most important is that during the main part of the year both operators and buildings were idle and that humans and factories just "worked" during the harvest. And this is the solution he suggests, which could be also attentively read by current "businessmen":

"the first inconvenient is usually obviated saying that operators are paid by the company just in the time of milling; but, besides this circumstance cannot be applicable to the most important employees, this is neither profitable for a well calculated business, as this system risks the constant change of operators, because it is not possible to keep good workers with such an accidental and variable occupation. A factory must constitute a big family whose individuals see in it, and just in it, their present existence, both their own and their child's future guaranteed" (p.58). [9]

This memory is not just in the minds and evocations of those who lived it. Since it is not a method for information retrieval, it can tell us how people worked, who were the workers and which organization of labor integrated the different fragments of each collective worker. It is therefore not the technique for gathering information, but the objectives of the research and the epistemic culture of the researcher, that move things on when it is about reconstructing the lives of the workers, examining who they were, where they came from and how they interacted with the world around them. [10]

This memory can be expressed in different sources, such as information from newspapers, interviews in the press, letters, or data collected in oral interviews. But there will be other traces, physical trails, as it were. One just has to be able to interpret them. For example, the "personalization" of working posts shown in photographs, as we have documented them in the case of the study of esparto worker women in Villarejo de Salvanés. It can also be found in the internal regulations of a factory, as it has been sharply argued by José María SIERRA (2001) in an article full of inspiration. [11]

This epistemological and methodological perspective that has been shrewdly used by Gustave Nicolas FISHER (1983), both in its historical aspect—with an approach very close to ours—and in its current approach, reverberates with current problems set out by ergonomics: the space as a new view of work and social practice (both work and personal space, and what he suggests to consider clandestine self-management of workplaces, something impossible to find if it is not by close sociology and/or concrete social history). This is as CAMAS BAENA, ORTIZ MATEOS, MUÑOZ SOTELO and MARTÍNEZ PÉREZ (2001) did in an exemplary way, reconstructing the "trabajo a buen común" (a local expression for a kind of collective work with egalitarian share-out of the benefits) in the olive harvesting in Bujalance. The authors mix, in just one movement of action-research, anarchist tradition and anarchist memory; something that is omnipresent in the village, but not at all obvious for hurried researchers without a deep knowledge of the work history of Andalusian agriculture. [12]

The documentary (video) output of this work, entitled "A buen común" (CAMAS BAENA, ORTIZ MATEOS, MUÑOZ SOTELO & MARTÍNEZ PÉREZ,1999), is, according to its authors, a kind of approach to the culture of work and to the day-laborer identity, and it is based in the doctoral thesis of Victoriano CAMAS BAENA (1998), titled "Identidad y cultura del trabajo en el olivar de Bujalance. La historia oral como espacio interdisciplinar en la investigación social [Identity and Culture of Work in the Olive Grove in Bujalance. Oral History as an Interdisciplinary Space in Social Research]." Later on, the same team has realized an amazing reconstruction of the culture of "la corcha" (local word for the bark of the cork-oak), in Jimena de la Frontera, Cádiz (CAMAS BAENA et al., 2001). [13]

There can also be other pieces of information in novels or literature, or in other forms of artistic expression (painting, cinema, etc.) that not only gather data, but also sometimes reconstruct the image of a generational, or modestly familiar, memory. This was the case of the novel "Central eléctrica," by Jesús LÓPEZ PACHECO (1984, p.155) which draws on the childhood and youth experience of the author during the civil war and reconstructs a most reliable memory of the conditions of big hydraulic works during the FRANCO's regime in the postwar period. There we can discover in detail the working conditions in the construction of big dams:

"Andrés [the 'illustrated' engineer] went away from there. He had recalled the work accidents he had witnessed. 'Then no one knows anything, no one worries about anything until something happens', he thought. When leaving the central he looked up. Over the hundred meters of the dam [of Aldeaseca5)] there it was the little 'gates house.' Two men had been sunken under that huge mass of cement. He couldn't help a horror gesture. 'Maybe it is a hundred men already death ... And it hasn't finished yet.' The dam, the power house, the hillside cut with dynamite, the tunnel opened by an explosion the day before, the structure shining in the top of the left hillside ..., he found it all impressive. An epic of two thousand heroes" (CHAPA, 1999, p.145). [14]

In these public works that Alvaro CHAPA studied (1999), from the beginning of the twentieth century up until 1970, "over 25.000 men," and women, worked, for example in the construction of access roads to the dams and found themselves involved in this "collective epic" [but] "we know nothing of most of them" (p.51). However, we do know something about the "labor order" that could prevail in those productive environments. CHAPA deals with the matter in detail, as for example in the case of the dam of Villalcampo. Labor order was directed from the Guardia Civil6) station where "they first beat and then ask for the reason of the disturbances" (p.145). And the manners of the foremen where not too different: "Many foremen and persons in charge of workers teams behaved in the same way" (p.148). [15]

In a similar way to this starting point on material or experiential traces of past activity, a policy for recovering and managing heritage that can give sense to the physical vestiges should be approached. Because, contrary to what is usually taken for granted by those who look at the realities of work from the outside, preferring the comfort of their office to the uncomfortable fieldwork, the description of an industrial technical system cannot be taken for granted. And the problem is not as much in the complexity—think about all you have to consider to account for all the production line of a car and its components—given that a great majority of the information is not available any more, as it is in the election needed to avoid placing yourself just in the characteristics of a manufacture in a given place. [16]

Memory of work is also the workers, men and women, themselves, physically and mentally shaped by the process of their conversion from potential labor force to effective workers. Put in more categorical words, we prioritize not the possession of particular types of data, but the systematic effort to answer a research question. With his usual wisdom, former President of TICCIH, Louis BERGERON, has summarized the question this way:

"Why not talking also of an archeology of memory that is not just, as [traditional] historian would do, the search of texts—unfortunately very rare—, that workmen or even employers would have left us, but that is also closer to the ethnologic method and oral history, an archeology that is a compilation of workmen words and employers words, an archeology that arouses, that suggests help to the interviewed person in the construction of his own memory of the industry" (2001, p.58). [17]

This is a memory capable of accounting for the written texts, the things constructed and embodied in persons. This is a way of enriching the sources that is just possible with a well constructed research set of issues: "If history is needed to interpret what we find in the field, these discoveries contribute with unprecedented information and deal with the documental sources in another way" (p.58). The memory of work, according to this interpretation, pretends to return the "nerves" and the blood, the complexity of life in factories and work centers, its singularity and tangibility; once more, the container is not enough, or it says hardly anything once it is emptied and has become an industrial waste land. Regarding the issue dealt with in this article, this approach is fundamental in order to design reuse or recovery policies. This was expressed by Louis BERGERON (1991, p.27) when he referred to "the memory of the company," proposing for the Lingotto of Fiat in Turin something very similar to what I suggested (but was not taken into account, by the way, in the final "reconversion" carried out by Renzo PIANO). It is not even enough, he says in an admiring way referring to the classical film Modern Times, with Charles CHAPLIN "as an industry historian and anthropologist" (BERGERON, 1991, p.27). It would also "be possible to communicate memory of what is done in the assembly line, the design of the vehicle, the relation of man with mechanization" (p.27). [18]

Recovering the, collective and historic, memory requires then struggling to identify the different forms that memory has adopted in time and space. Not just recovering and integrating in a work and production process the material vestiges, but also the marks left in persons and institutions. This "industrial atmosphere," as Alfred MARSHALL (1963 [1890]) called it, forces us to recover a memory, as I have already developed elsewhere.

"materialized on artifacts, buildings, communication roads, productive forms, material resources, landscape, territory, etc. (...)

Institutionalized in formal or informal organizations, 'sociability' forms, as historians say, resources support. ... As a French researcher wrote, when reconstructing bicycle industry, this took him to an exhaustive work in the archives of the Labor Union Chamber.

Embodied in persons, in the strong sense of the habitus notion of Pierre Bourdieu: a set of aptitudes, skills, abilities ... A shaping that is not just shown in the way of thinking and being, but also in the savoir faire, as in 'behaving accordingly', in all that shapes us, gives us possibilities and also restricts ourselves as persons" (CASTILLO, 2008, p.25). [19]

A more complete research program is needed. One that takes into account the set of problematic issues well identified by Michael DIETLER and Ingrid HERBICH (1998), when they study the social mechanisms created by dispositions and the material conditions influencing the creation of these dispositions. These authors refer also to the origin and nature of the problems provoked by the adaptations undergone. As a result there is not only a particular memory of work reconstruction, but also a reshaping of the people involved. [20]

Put it in Marcel PROUST's profound words, it is about reconstructing a memory that does not always appear at a first glance, which he summarizes this way in the last volume of "À la recherche du temps perdu" (1986): "I knew very well that my brain is a rich mining area, in which there was an immense and very diverse extension of precious deposits" (p.450).The same author noticed that in order to identify his characters "it was compulsory to look at them at the same time with the eyes and with the memory" (p.323); recovering also what is personified in the bodies: "but it seems to be an involuntary memory in the limbs [of the body], pale and sterile imitation of the other one, that lives for a longer time (...) the legs, the arms, are full of locked up souvenirs" (p.61). [21]

Heritage, as we can see, is both tangible and intangible: it feeds on a set of experiences, beliefs, ideas and survival strategies; it gives renewed life to any physical remains, framing them and making them become a piece of information with meaning. "The places of memory are, above all, the remains," says the historian Pierre NORA (1984, p.28). Places that are born and live from the feeling that there is no spontaneous memory, that we have to create and recreate it: "there is no memory-man but, in his own person, a place of memory" (p.37). [22]

The UNESCO Program for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage opens new paths for this perspective that enriches, promotes and complicates the Industrial Archeology perspective and the defense of heritage and its recovery. "Not just cathedrals and pyramids have the right to be part of traditional heritage, but also traditional knowledge" (BARDON, 2001, p.2). Javier PÉREZ De CUÉLLAR (2003) shows the way forward:

"let's remember, as an example, the existence in Peru of certain ancestral techniques in the building of houses that allow confronting with particular competence the frequent seismic movements. Houses built in this way are more resistant to earthquakes and less expensive. These techniques have been successfully tested in Central America, frequently suffering from the same kind of natural disasters"(p.15). [23]

The described research object, namely the memory of work, guides or gives ground to a set of disciplines forming, in our opinion, industrial archeology; it further implies a research strategy that may be summarized, following Gaston BACHELARD's words, as "thinking to do research, and doing research to think" (1972 [1938], p.213). It is therefore the research object and the concern for and theoretical construction of it, that defines the methodological resources that have to be necessarily put into practice. Styles of thought melting in the theoretical platform of industrial archeology, as a junction of wisdoms, and fertilize each other. They enrich and change when putting into practice the fieldwork and the specific research. [24]

The memory of work gives orientation in this way towards a common sight that should begin from the real situations of work and the reconstruction of work processes, in a space that is not just geographical but also historical and genealogical. This should further extend inside and outside the factory or the workplace, to include concrete men and women, in a specific, determined and socially constructed environment. The methods and technical resources for gathering information are determined by this perspective. [25]

In Spain this approach has a strong tradition. When "La Sociedad para el Estudio del Guadarrama" [The Society for the Study of Guadarrama]" was established in November 1886 inside the Institución Libre de Enseñanza7), the researchers recorded in their first circular of the excursions, that their fieldwork,

"take us to study Nature in the middle of it; Industry, inside the factories; Art in front of monuments; Geography, walking around the earth; History in the archives and museums, and even in the same places where the events took place; Sociology, talking and living with the people" (ORTEGA, 2001, pp.254-255). [26]

3. The Link: Industrial Archeology and Industrial Heritage, an Inseparable Continuum

In an exceptional book about the recovery and reuse of industrial heritage, Judith ALFREY and Tim PUTNAM (1992), have highlighted the need to link the study and the research, Industrial Archeology, with the identification and enhancement of heritage, seeing the process as a whole. This way, the interpretation, and in its visible form, the "interpretation centers," will be conditioned by that approach and its contributions. [27]

In an insuperable way, in our opinion, Diane BARTHEL has dealt with this issue when analyzing the "role of the historical safeguard in the creation of collective memories" (1996, p.345). Processes shaping the preservation of industrial heritage are conditioned by three social processes: 1. selection; 2. contextualization; and 3. interpretation. She argues that technology is not just "socially constructed" (p.356), but it is also socially re-constructed. Monuments, Denkmal in German, are "occasions for reflection" (p.356). And that's the first thing that industrial ruins should be in her opinion. Here, "significance has become an explicit object of debate" (p.356), since "objects themselves can talk louder than words [in leaflets or interpretation centers]" (p.357). All this, she ends up saying, because "the specific aspects of industrial past can be expropriated and given different interpretations. These interpretations depend in part on the material interests and ideals of implicated social actors" (p.360). In a concise way I could say it is something as simple as that: in order to be able to show cultures of work, the first thing needed is to know them. [28]

Is it done like that in practice? The most reassuring answer is to believe it is, even if it is in different depth degrees. And it is true, sometimes ... It has been done like that, to mention some valuable examples, in some of which my team and I have participated, in the Museo de los Molinos [Museum of Mills] of Tajuña, in the Madrid Region, recovered in an exemplary way, thanks to the memory and active participation of the last miller, unfortunately disappeared today. It has been also the case for the recovery of the Fábrica de Harinas [Flour Factory] "La Esperanza" in Alcalá de Henares. And it has been also relatively well done, although it was a bit late, with the Fábrica de Cervezas [Beer Factory] "El Águila," regional library of Madrid Autonomous Community nowadays. Or it has been quite well done in Valdemorillo with the furnaces of Falcó. Or it was deplorably done with the Flour Factory, turned into a restaurant, in the same town. [29]

Another poor example has been the "recovery" (!) of the XIX century tunnel leading to the old port of Laredo, in Cantabria, where the so-called previous study we realized in 1995 was of no use. There, the combination of the property speculation interests and a complete lack of sensitivity to memory and local tradition, led to a expenditure of 127 millions in old pesetas (around 765,000 €) in a complete damage that has few possibilities to be surmounted. And, to round it off, the emblematic Fábrica de Salvarrey [Salvarrey Factory], in the same port, proposed to host the central venue of a "museum of work in the sea,." Even though it was one of the local identity symbols, and the main source of resources for many families, it has been demolished and "converted" in property speculation profit; and an urban disaster that has broken the skyline of Laredo seen from the sea. [30]

I know the problem we are recalling here is enormously complex, and that there are many factors (and interests) that influence its development and achievement. Some are so obvious that there is no need to be a specialist to understand them. Let's set the example of the almost criminal demolition of the emblematic Fábrica de Harinas "El Puente de Aranjuez" [Flour Factory "The Bridge of Aranjuez"]. In this case, the whole study realized by our team almost collapsed upon them, in a literal sense, with the excavators and bulldozers in action, while trying to keep the memory of the existent remains. The fact that press attributed to the "property conversion" a profit of 2.500 millions of old pesetas (around 15,060,240 €) explains better than any book of sociology that Aranjuez is today, as we said in the press, "a truncated human landscape" (CANDELA, CASTILLO & LÓPEZ, 2002a; see also CANDELA, CASTILLO & LÓPEZ 2002b). [31]

The historic recovery of a productive set, that pretends returning to its actual community a vestige or a piece of its own memory, raises of course problems not at all obvious. Of course it is about how this memory was integrated in the mental landscape of workers, but also of the whole community, of the inhabitants of a concrete place. Because it is a question of recovering, returning and making common heritage in a non mystified, neither truncated way, nor converted in a kind of unrecognizable fetish. On the contrary, the traces from the past should be valued as a way to root future in the past. [32]

4. The Action: Fighting Against Garbage Can and Bulldozer

The arguments I have developed want to set out the best possibilities for recovering and integrating the, material or not, marks and traces of work in the past, thanks to an approach that integrates the memory of work in the projects for reuse, enhancement, and reconstruction of a history that can be integrated in the common living of collectives of persons that do not want to lose their roots. [33]

However it is also known that this strategy can have, is having, an increasing valuation, and not only in our country but also at an international level, including the European Union: either for its possibilities of an integrated local development, for its ability to create the nowadays so-called gisements d'emplois; either for the need of reuse (for example for touristic purposes) faced to the social collapse that can involve the fact that "a factory closes." [34]

But also as an opposite recent trend to the examples of take the money and run companies that transfer overnight their installations, which disintegrate them, that "shrink" them, that disappear, leaving the only trace of desolation and unemployment. They are everyday in the newspapers (in Spanish ones and in those from any other country of the European Union, just to mention our closest environment). [35]

For this reason I am well conscious that with a "thought style" in Ludwig FLECK's words (1986 [1935]), as the one I propose, researchers could make a huge contribution against the garbage can. But it is needed more than just good studies to fight against the bulldozer. Because if everybody agrees that the material culture is the heart of archeology, it is also true that technological activities create worlds of values and meanings that mine social cohesion and the lives of persons when abruptly removed. [36]

Hence, as a background of our analyses, concrete and based on the field, it becomes more and more necessary a global ethnography, capable of accounting for the work in factories and in the rural areas. And, as usual, social sciences should not let themselves be seduced by the empty words of so many "global" theories that many times are just ideological words without real content, sold in supermarkets and airports as the last trend in sociological "theory," or in social sciences, more widely speaking. [37]

Grounded research, theoretically oriented, is the only possibility to propose new spaces for hope, "linking personal with local, regional and finally international," as David HARVEY has masterly written (2003 [2000], p.67). Then "what happens when the factories close, disappear or become so mobile that a permanent organization [of workers and their memory] is a difficult task, if not something impossible ...?" (p.67) Because "politics is always immerse in the 'ways of life' and in the 'structure of feeling' characteristic of places and communities" (p.74). [38]

It keeps on being then the role of social scientists and professionals, the study, the research, the development of this multidisciplinary platform that is Industrial Archeology. But there is no doubt that in order to Industrial Heritage may be so, our heritage and our roots, the compromise of the researcher, our compromise has to be the basis of our obligation as citizens. [39]

And it has to be together with a reasonable action. So that reality may come close to our wishes. Now that we can still save and enjoy, for ourselves and for our children, the memory of work. [40]

Appendix: Some Webpages


1) Translation from the Spanish, by Almudena BRAVO <back>

2) In Patrimoine de l'Industrie. Resources, pratiques, cultures/Industrial Patrimony, 11; with fewer amounts of references, but a good set of illustrations. <back>

3) A French version has been published too (CASTILLO, 2009). <back>

4) This part of the article substantially gathers my contribution to the Industrial Architectural Forum of Andalusia, celebrated in 2005, and has been written together with Antonio Miguel BERNAL. <back>

5) Aldeaseca is a municipality located in the province of Ávila, Castile and León, Spain. <back>

6) In Spain, the kind of police competent for the rural areas (Translator's Note). <back>

7) Independent Teaching Institution funded in 1876 by a group of professors that left the University to defend academic freedom against religious, politic or moral official dogmas (Translator's Note). <back>


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Bachelard, Gaston (1972 [1938]). La formation de l'esprit scientifique. Paris: Vrin.

Bardon, Agnes (2001). Un pasado que se escucha. Fuentes UNESCO, 136, 2-4.

Barthel, Diane (1996). Getting in touch with history: The role of historic preservation in shaping collectives memories. Qualitative Sociology, 19(3), 345-364.

Bergeron, Louis (1991). La memoria dell'impresa. Rome: Il coltello di Delfo.

Bergeron, Louis (2001). Archéologie industrielle et patrimoine industriel: Le contenu et la pratique aujourd'hui. In Claude Geslin (Ed.), La vie industrielle en Bretagne (pp.57-68). Rennes: Presses Universitaires.

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Juan José CASTILLO is Professor of Sociology at the University Complutense of Madrid and member of The International Committee for de Conservation of Industrial Heritage (TICCIH), Spain Board.


Juan José Castillo

Departamento de Sociología III (Estructura Social)
Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociología
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Campus de Somosaguas
28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid)

Tel.: +34 91 394 2872/9

E-mail: jjcastillo@cps.ucm.es
URL: http://www.ucm.es/info/charlesb/


Castillo, Juan José (2011). The Memory of Work and the Future of Industrial Heritage: New Issues Five Years Later [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(3), Art. 3,

Copyright (c) 2011 Juan José Castillo

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