Manchester: Something rich and strange challenges us to see the quintessential
post-industrial city in new ways. Bringing together twenty-three diverse writers
and a wide range of photographs of Greater Manchester, it argues that how we see
the city can have a powerful effect on its future – an urgent question given how
quickly the urban core is being transformed. The book uses sixty different words
to speak about the diversity of what we think of as Manchester – whether the
chimneys of its old mills, the cobbles mostly hidden under the tarmac, the
passages between terraces, or the everyday act of washing clothes in a
laundrette. Unashamedly down to earth in its focus, this book makes the case for
a renewed imaginative relationship that recognises and champions the fact that
we’re all active in the making and unmaking of urban spaces.
as long as it can, but they don’t give up until
they’re in – lifting the broken glass like a curtain to slip inside.
I sit writing this and realise it is the anniversary of the riots.
Seven years on and it is as though they never happened. Deleted
from our collective memory and narrative. They don’t fit. They
are uncomfortable to think about. We have Brexit to worry about
now – never mind that the riots showed the country’s deep divisions and anger long before the referendum was on the table, and I
would argue that ignoring the individual stories that underpinned
communities after the Brexit referendum,
resulting in the tragic death of a Polish man in Harlow, Essex in
Then I remember that I, too, am an immigrant. Or rather, I
was one many years ago, travelling from Lahore in Pakistan to
Manchester at the age of nine. Having lived in Manchester for
over 80 per cent of my life, it’s difficult to believe and accept at
times that I could still be called an immigrant, or that I am indeed
a migrant by background.
Pakistani I might be by origin, but Britain is my home, and
Manchester is my beloved home city, the place where I
Manchester: Something rich and strange
Facade – Steve Hanson
Manchester is a city of facade. All Saints, where the Fifth PanAfrican Congress was held in 1945, is at present nothing but a
At the time of writing, the Manchester Metropolitan University
All Saints campus is being reconfigured. On the walls the words
‘leave’ or ‘go’ have been spray-canned by builders to designate
which walls are to be left standing and which are to be demolished.
At the same time, the incompetent government Brexit negotiations continue. To ‘leave’ and to ‘go’ here mean
and political intrigues and lavish costume design, demonstrate that
the appeal of the Tudors is most definitely not limited to children.
In the popular imagination, Tudor buildings and their inhabitants
signal a golden age in British history – a time when the elusive but
much-coveted notion of Britishness revealed itself most strongly.
Of course, this is mostly a myth, and a dangerously seductive
one at that in these post-Brexit times; but perhaps we can at least
celebrate Tudor architecture for its exemplary adaptability – its
some conservative thinkers the dominance of ‘anywhere’ or progressive worldviews in universities, politics and the media has created a climate in which large numbers of ordinary citizens feel un-represented or ignored by mainstream politics and culture ( Lasch, 1994 ; Slater, 2016 ; Williams, 2016 ). This feeling of having been ignored over the past few decades partly explains the vote for Brexit in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump in America. These votes shocked the political and cultural establishment as they asserted ‘somewhere’ or
, 2019 ; Ganivet, 2019 ; for a glossary, see Schimanski and Wolfe, 2017b ), often closely connected with thinking around the borderscape concept, in/visibility and Rancière's beforementioned partage du sensible . As the EU politician Guy Verhofstadt said in 2017 concerning Brexit and the question of the Irish border, with reference to the art of René Magritte, ‘[a] border is visible otherwise it isn't a border’ (Rankin and Asthana, 2017 ); borders have material components (Demetriou and Dimova, 2018 ; Green, 2018 ), and Svend Erik Larsen ( 2007 : 97) has argued
exclude – one that has been played out dramatically
on a national scale in the Brexit debacle, but also at the local scale
with the rapid development of many urban cores into citadels of
Manchester: Something rich and strange
wealth. Thinking of conurbations in the round inevitably draws us
away from narrow parochialism and the interests of one particular
group. This approach need not run roughshod over local differences or seek to centralise power; rather it can maintain the local
and the global together in creative tension – a tension that, after