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  • ‘Messing About in Boats’: The Heritage Livescape of Glasgow’s Canal and Clydebuilt Festivals

    Eleni Koumpouzi, Katarzyna Kosmala, Gareth Rice

    Chapter from the book: Smith, A et al. 2022. Festivals and the City: The Contested Geographies of Urban Events.


    This chapter draws on a study which assesses festivals staged on two waterways: the Forth and Clyde Canal and the River Clyde in Glasgow. Glasgow Canal Festival aims to celebrate the canal’s rich heritage and its importance to local communities by encouraging use of regenerated areas in North Glasgow. Clydebuilt Festival celebrates the river, the importance of being on the water and the accessibility of boats and crafts for public use. The participants in this research were members of transient local communities who participated in boat building and boat handling workshops prior to the events. Ethnographic observations of the participants showcasing their workshop outcomes at these festivals generated the research data. The study recognises that transient local communities struggle to establish identity, belonging and agency and that festivals based in post- industrial waterscapes are part of the effort to ‘claim distinction’ and establish ‘a sense of place’. The paper introduces the notion of the heritage waterscape as a contested livescape, differentiating it from Lefebvre’s ‘lived space’, as an activated life-world where communities, through practicing heritage through the festivals, claim their own voice in the place-making process and the publicness of space. Engaging in active participation with the heritage livescape demands an understanding of perceptions of the past as much as the present use value of the waterways for locals. Whilst the notion of ‘local community’ is shot through with tensions, the study revealed aspects of local participation in the two festivals that directly affect place-making processes. Thus, we argue for the value of activating urban festivals as ways to make sense of place and facilitate the integration for marginalised communities.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Koumpouzi, E et al. 2022. ‘Messing About in Boats’: The Heritage Livescape of Glasgow’s Canal and Clydebuilt Festivals. In: Smith, A et al (eds.), Festivals and the City. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book64.h

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on Aug. 23, 2022