Bus Enthusiasm as Heritage Practice: Investigating Critical Approaches to Heritage Research.

GRAHAM, Amy Gwendoline (2023). Bus Enthusiasm as Heritage Practice: Investigating Critical Approaches to Heritage Research. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00620


Heritage seems ubiquitous in our everyday lives, as we make sense of and preserve some aspects of the past into our present and a projected future. It is both personal and political, where we assign value to things (artefacts, performances, ideas) and communicate these values to others. In other words, heritage is itself a cultural practice, a set of meaningful activities which are done and have effects. This project is undertaken within the field of critical heritage studies. Many contributors to the field adopt a theorisation of heritage as a discourse, how ‘authorised’ cultural ideas are communicated and used to control or suppress alternative approaches (Smith, 2006). This has rightly exposed inequalities and injustices within museum and heritage practice, and in the research field itself. Heritage is done, but it is also felt. This project is inspired by the affective turn in social studies and aims to understand something of the complex interactions between individuals, communities, institutions and more through which heritage is experienced and known. In this, it contributes theoretically to the reading of affect espoused in the heritage field by Tolia-Kelly, Waterton & Watson (2016) and adopts methods inspired by, for example, Waterton & Watson (2015a) and Waterton & Dittmer (2014). Using the example of London bus travel, and working with bus enthusiasts, the project explores heritage defined as: things from the past which are able to and have been sustained. This implies that heritage has something to do with thingness, the material and its symbolic uses, but is also related to practices, ways in which we might sustain specific meanings and values (authoring, recording, and collecting). The research is particularly interested in how heritage is contingent on a specific moment of encounter, experienced as time-consciousness. The programme of research explores several moments of encounter with London bus heritage: at the London Transport Museum, on London’s now cancelled heritage bus route (the 15H) and in participants’ homes. The methodology is inspired by ethnographic approaches to participant observation within fields of enquiry, as critical and imaginative practices of being and doing with (Elliott & Culhane, 2017) which are mobile, sensory, and affecting (Pink, 2015; Gherardi, 2019). Through the adoption of methods such as reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2022) and forms of ethnographic description (e.g., Stewart, 2007; Taussig, 2011) research materials such as audio recordings, verbatim speech, photographs, interview transcripts, physical artefacts such as tickets, and memories are used to produce research interpretations. Collage is employed as a critical reflective process, providing visualisation and analytical strategy. Participants are represented by imagined travelcards with personalised ‘Conditions of Carriage’; written ethnographies recreate bus journeys and museum visits from the fragments and accounts of everyday experiences; leaflet ‘trails’ disrupt museum-to-visitor communications. Findings consider the proximity between enthusiasm (as emotional and potentially irrational) and (rational) expertise in the construction of heritage. The museum is understood as both its own organisation and in reference to Transport for London as the provider of London’s transport infrastructure. The 15(H) bus ride is both a heritage object and a form of re-enactment which highlights the precarity of the heritage project itself, shaped by political requirements. Enthusiast-participants find their lives as meaningful in curating collections from their past and in bus journeys now; their values and experiences interact with official sites of heritage-making in several ways. The overall contribution is firstly, an account of bus enthusiasm, its origins, practices, and communities; secondly, insights into the nature of heritage as interaction between affect (as both sensation and the sensate) and practice, emergent through moments of encounter with heritage things. Alternative format available (Appendix A)

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Doherty, Kathy
Thesis advisor - Shaw, Becky [0000-0001-6835-6044]
Additional Information: Director of Studies - Dr Kathy Doherty Supervisor - Dr Becky Shaw
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00620
Depositing User: Justine Gavin
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2024 11:12
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 02:00
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/33860

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