Song Lines to Impact and Legacy: Creating Living Knowledge through Working with Social Haunting

Lead Research Organisation: Manchester Metropolitan University
Department Name: Faculty of Education

Abstract

This project arises out of the AHRC Connected Communities ECR Development Project 'Working with Social Haunting' and the AHRC 2106 Festival project 'Opening the 'Unclosed Space': Multiplying Ghost Labs as Intergenerational Utopian Practice'. In both of these projects, led by early career researcher, Dr Geoff Bright, the Ghost Lab model of community practice was developed as a means of reanimating aspects of "communal being-ness" concealed within contested pasts as living but subjugated knowledge. Dissemination of the Ghost Lab model into new areas with new partners is particularly relevant, given the 2016 Brexit vote and a proliferation of popular discourses about a north/south division fracturing along geographies of difference between metropolitan locations and de-industrialised areas - an agenda that emerged strongly during the lifetime of our projects.
We will enhance the impacts and legacies of our two previous AHRC projects by disseminating one of the techniques that we designed as part of a repertoire of community 'ghost hunting' methods: the "community tarot" reading - a simple, playful device of community reimagination that originated during our research work in South Yorkshire, Lancashire and Staffordshire. Working with our new creative partners, Ribbon Road (professional folk musicians working with communities); our established partners Unite Community, Co-op College and the New Vic Theatre; and our new community partners East Lancashire Workers Education Association, East Durham Artists Network, Durham Participatory Research Hub, Sheffield Live and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) we will showcase the community tarot reading technique at six 'Impact and Legacy Ghost Labs' in five new communities (three in NE and two in the NW). As an innovation, four to six "song lines" (specially written and recorded songs in line with local dissenting song traditions) will be created from those impact events and disseminated regionally, nationally and internationally in video and audio form through:

- our extensive community partner networks
- a series of interactive community radio links facilitated through Sheffield Live and AMARC. Specific, international links will be with community radio stations in Slovenia, Haiti, the US, Hungary, Malawi and the Basque country
- two large-scale public projections of commissioned video material (one each in the NE and NW)
- a practioner/policy-maker conference at the People's History Museum, Manchester
- a commissioned website.

The three NE communities will be Seaham, Horden and Willington on the Durham coalfield, and the two communities in the NW will be Rochdale (Ghost Labs on two sites) and Hyde, Tameside - all of which are communities where the relationship to Brexit is complicated, ambivalent and potentially divisive. Through public-facing impact engagements at the 2017 Durham Miners' Gala, Great Yorkshire Show, Wigan Diggers' Festival, and the Co-operative College Conference, we will establish a 'living knowledge' in the form of songs, images and an ever multiplying "Community Tarot pack" that operates as a living visual and conceptual lexicon of community re-imagination. Drawing on the example of our input at the Somerset House festival, public "readings' will be offered by our New Vic theatre partners, who themselves were central to originating and piloting the community tarot readings in Staffordshire. The policy-maker and practitioner conference held at the People's History Museum will see the launch of the website; workshops exemplifying the whole repertoire of Ghost Lab techniques; and a showcasing of the music/visual "song lines" created by Ribbon Road, the internationally interactive community radio broadcast material, and the project film material.

Planned Impact

The project will have an impact on key non-academic groups. It will impact on members of the public who participate in Ghost Labs through the opportunity to participate in a process that is, firstly enjoyable and social, but also offers opportunities to reflect on community histories and values and to reimagine alternative futures, thus contributing to a sense of community cohesion. As one of our participants from the previous project summed up: "We had a laugh, did something different, got to know each other and ourselves a bit better...It felt good to try to express myself through unusual means (for me) like poetry or even drawing. Doing it together created a powerful and lasting feeling...".

We will subsequently engage with local communities through spectacular large-scale, public open-air projections of the video ballads and the project film. These will take place at locations in the heart of the communities we are working with, allowing a wider group of local people to reflect on and respond to the issues raised through the Ghost Labs and ballads written in response. This community event will provide a further opportunity for local residents to come together as a community and reflect on their shared values and experiences. To impact on a wider regional audience, we will share project outcomes at a series of public events. The focus at these events will be pop-up theatre performances which bring to life the themes from the Ghost Labs. We will reach wide and diverse audiences through representation at the 2017 editions of Durham Miners' Gala (attendance 100,000 approx.), Great Yorkshire Show (2015 attendance: 132,000), Wigan Diggers' Festival (2015 attendance: 4,000), and the Co-op College Conference, which attracts co-operators, practitioners and researchers from the UK and internationally.

The project will also have an impact on our community-based education, activist, and arts partners (Unite Community, Co-op College, New Vic Theatre Borderlines, Workers' Education Association in the NW, East Durham Artists Network, Durham Participatory Research Hub) through increased capacity to creatively generate a living knowledge and respond strategically and practically to significant socio-political events that could affect community well-being by developing their understanding of the Ghost Lab approach, in particular the "Community Tarot. Our partners will also continue to disseminate the approach to new users linked to their networks.

In addition, this work will have an impact on wider policy and practitioner audiences regionally and nationally. A national Legacy Conference will be held towards the end of the project at which we will present the project outputs and provide opportunities for attendees to actively engage with the methodology through a series of creative workshops focusing on how they might adopt similar approaches within their own communities.

We will engage with international audiences through our planned radio broadcasts in the Basque country, Slovenia, US, Hungary, Haiti and Malawi. This process will go beyond simple dissemination as we will collect responses from communities of listeners. By incorporating these creative responses to our work, we will create an international cycle of reflexivity that will not only enrich our understanding of the original research through diverse perspectives, but also initiate an ongoing dialogue about the usefulness of the ideas around social haunting in considering current social and political concerns beyond the UK.

Finally, our project website will encourage diverse national and international audiences, including academics, practitioners, policy makers and the general public, to actively engage with the project by providing access to all the artistic outputs and encouraging discussion and collaboration to explore the notion of social haunting (as we have started to do through our blog in previous projects).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title A series of art works produced by artist commissioned as part of the Song Lines n the Road, Lifelines on the Move MMU RKE Funded Project 2018-19 
Description Film, slam poetry, story board, Snapchat imagery 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Location on Social Haunting website: socialhaunting.com 
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com
 
Title A series of project films produced by commissioned artist Steve Pool 
Description A series of films of varying lengths and aimed to two different audiences, lay and academic 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The films form a visual archive of the work and are linked to the project website and are thus available to the different audiences for on-going research purposes 
URL https://spsheff.wixsite.com/songlines
 
Title Radio Documentary programme 
Description Two radio broadcasts produced by Max Munday 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact These broadcasts have been disseminated internationally via community radio channels in Slovenia, Hungary, Malawi, Indonesia and the USA and then responded to interactively by audiences 
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com/radio
 
Title Ribbon Road Song/Image cycle Giving up the Ghosts 
Description This sequence of six specially written and recorded songs (and associated images) was commissioned by the project 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact 'Giving up the Ghosts' was used as the basis of the radio broadcasts that have extended the impact of the project work 
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com/music
 
Description In the period 2018-19 it is emerging that it a social haunting can itself be internally haunted by another layer of contested psychosocial legacy. The key example in our work being being the unacknowledged role of women in holding together coalfield communities in the aftermath of deindustrialisation. The series of projects reported on here all use the idea of 'social haunting' to think about how local affective histories impact in communities in ways that are often invisible to social policy and practice in the fields of health, education, planning and governance. Our work is beginning to assemble a significant evidence base that suggests that affective histories are best approached through interdisciplinary, co-produced and arts-based community inquiry. The methods we have designed (the Ghost Labs) have particular potential in supplementing 'wellbeing' assessment processes that are now beginning to appear as legislative requirements.
Exploitation Route In training and education within the relevant fields and in relation to assessments of community needs, well-being, belonging, heritage and governance
Sectors Education,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://www.socialhaunting.com
 
Description 1. The research has been disseminated to the community trade union, Unite Community, through its Yorkshire, Humberside and Durham regional structure and its South Yorkshire branch structure by the project PI and research partner participants, with the following impacts. The Ghost Lab (GL) research approach has been extended at the independent initiative of Unite Community members and others close to that membership. Additional GLs have taken place in Doncaster and Stockport in relation to Photography Exhibitions of work by a photographer, Les Monaghan, who had come in contact with the work. A series of three GLs around the theme of 'Brexit and Social Haunting: what role does our past have in shaping the future?' took place in the city of Sheffield as part of the 2017 'Festival of debate' and an additional GL was facilitated by Co-I Dr Sarah McNicol with a group of British Asian women in Hyde, Cheshire. Around fifty people took place in these GLs. 2. One of our partners, East Durham Arts Network, has scheduled a period of project work and an exhibition during August and September, 2018, based on "Memory Boxes" inspired by our project and the GL that we ran in Seaham, County Durham. 3. PI Dr Nigel Geoffrey Bright has won £8k internal MMU University Impact Funding to link the impact of the Song Lines project to that of Prof Gabrielle Ivinson in S.Wales. As a result a series of six community that will share the artistic products of these two bodies of work. Ribbon Road's "Giving up the Ghosts " song/image cycle will be showcased as the centre piece of these events. 4. Strong links have been established with an arts /social project 'Appalshop' in Whitesburg, Kentucky, in the Appalachian coal mining region, and a speaking tour by PI Geoff Bright is planned to take place in April 2018, USA. This link has arisen out of the project related broadcast by WMMT FM radio based in Whitesburg, Kentucky
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Influence on practice of community partners Unite Community and The Co-operative College
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Increased well being has been reported by participants in our project "Ghost Labs"
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com
 
Description AHRC Catalyst Funding
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 07/2018
 
Description Manchester Metropolitan internal RKE Impact Award
Amount £8,000 (GBP)
Organisation Manchester Metropolitan University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 03/2019
 
Description Social Haunting co-production Partnership 
Organisation Unite the Union
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We developed the partneship to co-produce and co-deliver the project
Collaborator Contribution Song Lines to Impact and Legacy: Creating Living Knowledge through Working with Social Haunting (AH/P0095061/1) grew from our two earlier AHRC Connected Communities projects - Working with Social Haunting (AH/M009262/1) and AHRC Festival project Opening the 'Unclosed Space' Multiplying Ghost Labs as Intergenerational Utopian Practice - to take our innovative and highly successful Ghost Lab technique of 'Community Tarot' readings to new audiences in marginalised de-industrialised communities in the UK and, from there, to new national and international audiences. The co-production partnership included Unite Community who helped specifically to deliver project presentations at the Durham Miners' Gala and the Great Yorkshire Show. The interdisciplinary "Ghost Lab" approach, using a variety of arts based methods, has been well received by Unite Community members and the union feels "that further generation of impact throughout other areas within our regional structure is now very appropriate, particularly as we seek to build our capacity to respond to the impact of the 2016 EU Referendum vote in diverse communities where the Brexit vote was high". Unite supported the innovative and approach to developing the social haunting approach by using the Ghost Labs as a basis for community song production, and offered the followung support in kind Unite support for the project 1. Support through the regional and branch structure in the North West and North East to facilitate attendance at the Impact and Legacy Ghost Labs; 2. Supporting the project presence during the Durham Miners Gala weekend by incorporating a session on the background research at the Durham Miners Gala Political Education School and making a space available in the Unite Marquee with a specific stall for demonstrations of the Community Tarot approach; 3. Supporting the project by making a space available in the Unite marquee at the Great Yorkshire Show (£150) 3. Support via our print and digital distribution networks to link the project to our national membership postage and mass texts plus four mail outs to members (£300) 4. Two days of the `nite Community NE and NW regional Co-ordinators time to support the project at £150 per day = £600 5. One day of Head of Unite Community time in attending meetings and providing access to Unite's extensive internal communications that reach the union's 1.4 million members = £250.00
Impact All project objectives set out in the original Case for Support were met in full and exceeded
Start Year 2017
 
Description Additional Event: 'Relative Values'. Sheffield Central Library 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The collaboration with socially engaged photographer Les Monaghan continued with 'Relative Poverty' http://www.relativepoverty.org/ an ongoing body of work involving families defined as destitute in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. This exhibition ran at the Sheffield Central Library during June 2017 and involved Mark James, Co-I on 'Song Lines to Impact and Legacy' project. Mark ran sessions alongside the display of photographs to explain the Social Haunting work and facilitate creative exercises using some of the theoretical influences from within the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com/impact/
 
Description Additional Ghost Lab Doncaster 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In February 2017, Mark James, Community Co-I on the 'Song Lines' project connected Unite members in Doncaster with the research and its developing methodological and theoretical influences in an informal Ghost Lab at the Trades and Labour Club, Doncaster.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com/impact/
 
Description Additional Ghost Lab Hyde, Cheshire 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Spring 2017, Co-I Dr Sarah McNicol ran a Ghost Lab with a group of British Bangladeshi women in Hyde, Greater Manchester. This formed part of a longer project the women were involved in exploring their community histories and life stories with Manchester Metropolitan University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com/impact/
 
Description Additional Ghost Labs as part of Sheffield Festival of Debate 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Brexit and Social Haunting
Over three months, three Ghost Labs were organised as part of the Festival of Debate 2017 in Sheffield over April, May and June 217 and facilitated by community Broadcaster Max Munday and Research Project Leader Geoff Bright. 'Brexit and Social Haunting: what role does our past have in shaping the future?' involved Ghost Labs organised on a working-class estate that had been referred to in the 2015 'Working with Social Haunting' project. The aim was to consider whether the space and process that the Ghost Lab creates might allow us to think in different ways about Brexit and to communicate in more meaningful ways.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com/impact/
 
Description Additional project event and Ghost Lab - 'Aspirations'. At Stockport War Memorial Gallery 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 'Aspirations' and 'Relative Poverty'
The Social Haunting team ran activities to accompany photographer Les Monaghan's exhibition 'Aspirations' at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery, 18th February 2017. The exhibition of over 600 portraits examined education, class, society and habitus in contemporary South Yorkshire. Research team members Sarah McNicol and Max Munday discussed the Social Haunting work and made 'community tarot' cards with visitors to stimulate discussion about their past, present and future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com/impact/
 
Description Additional scheduled event. Seaham, Co Durham. Exhibition of art works inspired by social haunting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In Seaham, where a Ghost Lab took place with members of the East Durham Artists' Network (EDAN) in 2017, the network reports that "The EDAN writers' group has been particularly interested in the idea of social haunting. We conducted our own object-based workshop and as a result of the project, and have scheduled a 'Social Haunting' exhibition at the Art Block to take place in September 2018. The exhibition will involve visual artists as well as writers, and will use memory boxes as the main visual medium for presenting the work."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com/impact/
 
Description All planned project engagement activities completed 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact All planned project engagement activities were achieved: July 2107: Project presentations at the Durham Miners' Gala and the Great Yorkshire Show (supported by New Vic Theatre, Unite Community). September 2017: Project presentation at Wigan Diggers' Festival (supported by New Vic Theatre, and Co-op). November 2017: Policy Maker Conference at The People's History Museum, Manchester. Public concert by Ribbon Road December 2017. Outlined in other entries of this section are additional, unplanned engagement activities that have grown out of the Song lines project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL https://www.socialhaunting.com/impact/
 
Description Five separate Ghost Lab worksop events as part of the Song Lines on the Road; Life Lines on the Move project (MMU RKE funding £8k) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A series of Ghost Lab workshops in Seaham Co Durham, Merthyr Tydfil (2), Llanhilleth and Manchester
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Major coverage of the Social Haunting work by Big Issue North 20026 August 2018. Title "Ghosts and the Machine" by Ciara Leeming 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A major article in an important regional press organ. Based on interviews with NG Bright PI and Mark James and Amanda Benson Community Co-Is and project participant Jean Spence
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation to the UK Co-operative annual conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Social Haunting 'Ghost Lab' workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Project PI NG Bright interviewed for BBC Radio 4 programme The Dragon Next Door (broadcast 21/08/18). 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio 4 interview used in broadcast programme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Project Radio broadcasts in UK, and internationally 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact One of our project aims was to extend impact and legacy by means of a two-part interactive radio documentary circulated in collaboration with community broadcast media specialists Sheffield Live and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC). Community Broadcaster, Max Munday, was commissioned to produce a two-part radio documentary aimed at seeding international community engagement. Initial hopes were to reach USA, Malawi, Haiti, Slovenia, Hungary and the Basque Country where early co-production had indicated significant community and activist interest in the idea of working with a social haunting and, in particular, in song as a means of representing the affective contents of community dissent. In the event, links with Haiti proved untenable because of the domestic situation there, and the link with the Basque country could not be sustained by AMARC. A link with Indonesia was developed and an additional Malawian Community radio "listener club" involved, instead. Max Munday produced and disseminated the community radio documentary Song Lines and Social Haunting which was heard and met with an interactive response in all of the international settings as detailed below.
The documentary featured excerpts from Ghost Labs and Ribbon Road's songs, an explanation of the concept of 'social haunting' and of the Ghost Labs, a socio-economic and political background to the communities involved in the UK project, and questions through which to reflect on the work's resonance in the listeners' local context. Stations were selected in consultation with World Association of Community Broadcasters and Sheffield Live! our partners in this aspect of the work. Following initial arrangements with radio stations in a variety of countries, some of which were not able to go ahead as planned, the radio documentary was broadcast by the following: Bembeke Radio, Dedza, Malawi; Civil Radio, Budapest, Hungary; Radio Dzimwe, Monkey Bay, Malawi; Radio Student, Ljubljana, Slovenia; WMMT FM, Whitesburg, Kentucky, USA; and Community Radio "Gombrek Fm" in Sidokerto - Jombang - East Java, Indonesia
Listeners: (estimated): 100,000-200,000 in total. SoundCloud listeners (in addition to the stations' online listenership): 90. There are not clear figures for all stations and calculating listener numbers is notoriously difficult, but as an example, Civil Radio says it has a potential reach across Budapest to the city's 2 million population and believes its average daily audience is 20-25,000. Radio Dzimwe says it has FM coverage over 150km and 3.2 million people in that area. WMMT FM Kentucky broadcast the documentary in January 2018 on the 'Mountain Talk' programme with two accompanying interviews: one from project PI Geoff Bright to explain the background and methods of our work, and the other from, Kentucky based psychologist, Dr Wayne Coombs. (Completed by project milestone of November 2017) The documentary can be heard, and community radio responses seen, at https://www.socialhaunting.com/radio/ )
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.socialhaunting.com/radio
 
Description Public performance at New Vic Theatre Borderlines, Newcastle under Lyme 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact One of our project objectives was to demonstrate the Community Tarot Reading technique and use the creative materials produced as the basis for producing six video ballads to be written by Ribbon Road. The Community Tarot pack was used as the key stimulus in all the Ghost Labs and Ribbon Road (musicians Brenda and Geoff Heslop, and photographer Carl Joyce) were present in each and composed and recorded an illustrated video ballad based in each of six of the GLs. The video ballad has already been seen by several hundred people and promoted by participants from the Ghost Labs and through the agencies of our community partners Unite Community and the Co-operative College, whilst the songs have featured on Steve Pool's films and the radio documentary Songlines and Social Haunting that has reached international audiences of thousands through community radio. There was also a public performance of the song cycle at New Vic Theatre Bordelines. For 'Song Lines' to be performed, between and within our participants' communities, the songs of Ribbon Road were translated in to Urdu, Farsi, Kurdish and Arabic. (Completed by original project milestone of September 2017 -The full visual song sequence, Giving Up the Ghosts, can be heard at https://www.socialhaunting.com/video/ and the live performance can be seen at https://spsheff.wixsite.com/songlines
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://spsheff.wixsite.com/songlines