‘Nostalgia for the future’: memory, nostalgia and the politics of class

Laurajane Smith*, Gary Campbell

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    118 Citations (Scopus)


    Nostalgia for some is pointless and sentimental, for others reactionary and futile. Where does that leave those of us interested in labour history and heritage–is it all just ‘smokestack nostalgia’? Using interviews with visitors, volunteers and staff at sites and museums of industrial and working class heritage in England, the United States and Australia, we argue that a useful distinction can be made between ‘reactionary nostalgia’ and ‘progressive nostalgia’, and that a ‘nostalgia for the future’ can emerge from memories and memorialisations. Drawing on the past can help mould the sentiments and nurture the emotional commitment to social justice issues the Left so desperately needs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)612-627
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2017


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