Mining heritage in Asturias. From Black to Green

El próximo 16 de mayo tendré el honor de representar a INCUNA en Glückauf Industriedenkmal – Bedeutungen und Visionen für NRW que tendrá lugar en Gladbeck, Alemania del 16 al 18 de mayo. Os dejo el abstract de mi intervención a modo de anticipo.

Coal mining had a splendorous past in Asturias and it has been fundamental in its economy, industry, its ways of facing and understanding life, as well as its identitarian and cultural manifestations. Currently we are heading to a process of decarbonization in Europe, as the thermic origin coal will have in the future a minor role as energy source, due among other causes to the increased costs of production on the subsoil extraction, the difficulties of the coalfields, environmental problems or the strong competition with other energy resources. In this context, the region of Asturias in the north of Spain is being strongly affected, since it is also one of the regions with the highest production of electricity.

The economic restructuration processes in mining regions go beyond the economic analysis, becoming a process of cultural change with slow rhythms that mature in the long term, which is why huge economic resources and offensive strategies of action are required. This configured a complex situation that opted for a model of economic transition which had good results in its policies at the turn of the century, coexisting old and new activities and where the public initiative acted as compensating element of the social problems that may came with. However, the alternatives that allow the substitution in short term of the productive activities that marked a history of tens of years and basically define a regional economic structure aren’t easy.

100elementos Turón

Paisaje minero del Valle de Turón. Pozo Santa Bárbara. Fuente: TICCIH-España

In the past years many important projects had been made in the mining zones of Asturias, focusing on the creation and improvement of infrastructures, improvement of mining habitat and unique projects such as various kinds of facilities, as well as an important chapter for the vocational training and the recycling of young people in new jobs rather than continue with the mining activity. Opportunity and reflection spaces arise for this in Europe, such as the Coal Regions in Transition Platform which is generating a political dialogue scene in order to coordinate efforts among all the affected mining municipalities. It configures a scene of collaboration generating working groups to discuss projects and good practices in relevant topics such as post-coal economy and its structural transformation, as well as ecoinnovation and advanced coal technologies supporting the transformation of the activity of these mining regions in decadence.

In other terms, the musealization of mining heritage has motivated innovative cases with a museographic profile, associating the cultural action to the economy of the region and regenerating the landscape through the recovery of the former mines with a cultural purpose. However, its preservation must mean much more than the presence of an object suitable for the tourist or aesthetic consumption. Accordingly, in the first decade of XXI century, in the light of industrial crises and the growing cultural tourism, a broader conception of heritage is appreciated, in which the cultural landscapes are studied as integral analysis of the system, as formal and symbolic elements in the cultural construction of the human being in the territory.

 

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