Mining Things: Confronting Loss and Flux in the Slate Industry Ruins of Northwest Wales

Seb Wigdel-Bowcott

Returning to a familiar environment after a prolonged absence has a strange way of pulling features out from their habitualness. This was my experience during a visit to the ruins on level 9 of Rhosydd Quarry, which formed part of a walk with friends on the mountain, Cnicht, and surrounding Cwm Croesor, while on a visit back to the area of northwest Wales where I grew up. The physical traces of the slate industry that had occupied a seamless place among my everyday surroundings now seemed to demand a recognition of a certain out-of-placeness. What I previously understood as the idiosyncrasies of a landscape shaped by a formerly world-leading national industry, I now saw as geological scars that stand as monuments to an industrial capitalism that exited as aggressively as it imposed itself, testifying to its remarkable ability to reshape environments both physical and social.

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Seb Widgel-Bowcott is a research MA student following the Cultural Analysis programme in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam. His research interests hover loosely around a few nodes – aesthetics, politics and technology; British nationalism(s); borders and migration; and curated spaces and narrative..

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