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New Directions in Coal Mining History and Heritage in the UK and Japan

A banner of four images: the first a miner eating rice, the second an underground image from the UK, the third children from the Japan moving around a minng community in the snow, and the Fourth a UK miners' wife washing clothes

"New Directions in Coal Mining History and Heritage in the UK and Japan" is an international research network that connects the On Behalf of the People researchers, the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield and the Japan Association for the Study of Former Coalfields (JAFCOF) in an 18-month international collaboration. The network is led by historian of Japan, Dr Mark Pendleton (Sheffield), and supported by Professor Keith Gildart (Wolverhampton) and Professor Naoko Shimazaki (Waseda).

The network seeks to explore several questions in a comparative framework. These include:
1. How was work in the coal mines organised in the context of Japan and the UK? What impact did different (and shifting) industry frameworks (public and national in the case of the UK vs private and local in the context of Japan) have in the organisation of miners’ work?
2. To what extent do these different institutional frameworks shape industry norms, workplace cultures, industrial identities, politics and individual and collective experiences?
3. How was life in British and Japanese coal mines experienced in terms of community, family life, education and social mobility?
4. How have deindustrialisation and mine closures been experienced in local communities in the UK and Japan? To what extent do regeneration, community development and heritage projects reflect community need? To what extent are these founded on international norms or vary based on local conditions?
5. How have technological, methodological and conceptual developments in recent decades transformed the study of coal mining history and heritage in terms of archiving, data gathering and dissemination?

We'll be exploring this through two workshops, one in the UK in July and one in Japan in December, which also includes site visits to former coal mining communities and heritage sites. You can follow our activities on Twitter with the hashtag #ukjcoal . We also welcome contact from other researchers looking to explore the story of coal mining past and present in the UK, Japan and between the two.

This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of their UK-Japan Social Sciences and Humanities research collaboration scheme. Our network is also supported by Waseda University, the University of Sheffield, the University of Wolverhampton, the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Coal Mining Museum for England and the Japan Association for the Study of Former Coalfields.