Speaker: Michael Howcroft (Southampton)

Civic pride and shame, emotions central to our understandings of place and belonging, have circulated relentlessly in Hull in recent years. Yet these emotions can be under-theorised or uncritically appraised. I suggest that regional and civic sentiments are vital to understanding the emotional climates in Hull, especially given its stigmatisation as a ‘crap’ town. In 2016, Hull voted by 67% to leave the European Union - a decision interpreted by many as inward looking and protectionist. For some, a ‘Brexit’ city hosting UK City of Culture (which Hull did in 2017) was paradoxical, as such arts festivals are assumed to be outward facing, inclusive and cosmopolitan. Drawing on a range of sources and original data from research in Hull between 2017 and 2020, this talk takes a critical look the mechanics and the politics of civic pride: how does it work through an initiative such as UK City of Culture, why is it so sought after (and increasingly so) by policymakers, how might it influence political and cultural behaviour, and can it be sustained? 

Michael completed his PhD in Human Geography at the University of Hull in the Autumn of 2021. Titled Pride, shame and the civic imaginary, it explores the intersections of cultural and political behaviour in his home city of Kingston Upon Hull. He is currently Senior Research Assistant on the Towns and the Cultural Economies of Recovery project(Opens in new window) at the University of Southampton, investigating how local communities and local governments understand culture and heritage within the discourse of ‘levelling up’. 

IHR Seminar Series: People, Place and Community