Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Manufacturing loss: Nostalgia and risk in Ludwigshafen

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Peter Phillimore, Dr Patricia Bell



This article takes cultural understandings of industrial risk in a centre of the global chemical industry as an opening that, perhaps unexpectedly, highlights nostalgia for a particular period in (West) Germany’s post-war history. Based on fieldwork in Ludwigshafen, we reflect on evocative memories among older residents of the severity of industrial pollution from the city’s vast chemical industry during the 1950s-1960s. Although the pollution of that era is hardly mourned, it was nonetheless depicted as emblematic of a culturally-defining era, and valorised as one of enormous achievement in a simpler time. We draw on Tim Ingold’s concept of ‘taskscapes’ and Tim Edensor’s discussion of ‘excessive spaces’ and ‘multiple absences’ to explore the selectivity of the nostalgia of Ludwigshafen’s older residents, in which the celebration of the rebuilding of the post-war chemical industry, and its dominant company BASF, simultaneously obscured problematic memories associated with the city’s chemical industry in wartime.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Phillimore P, Bell P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology

Year: 2013

Volume: 2013

Issue: 67

Pages: 107-120

Print publication date: 01/01/2013

Date deposited: 29/07/2014

ISSN (print): 0920-1297

ISSN (electronic): 1558-5263

Publisher: Berghahn Journals


DOI: 10.3167/fcl.2013.670108


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric