Jesse Adams Stein
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Factory closures, material culture and loss
in Hot metal
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This conclusion foregrounds the closure of Sydney’s Government Printing Office, revealing the emotive and powerful significance of material culture when an institution is extinguished. In re-telling the story of the factory closure, this chapter highlights the importance of material culture in industrial histories. Here was an unruly abundance of things, difficult and cumbersome relics of an industrial past. Workers took whatever they could smuggle out, as a way of compensating themselves for the betrayal of trust by their employers. Objects were at the centre of this story of decline and industrial closure. It is not simply that objects became connected to memory. Material culture both stirred feelings and consoled people who felt they had not been respected by the institution to which they had been loyal. Thus we return to the central message of this book: history is not merely the movement of people through time, it is bound up with the ever-changing physical and spatial world. A bringing-together of labour history with design and material culture, therefore, seems not only appropriate but entirely necessary.

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Hot metal

Material culture and tangible labour


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