The author’s story of a familial connection on the move was part of the research process of an ethnographic project about a demolished ex-industrial village. Growing up in the 1970s, the author’s fatherless childhood was silently lived out in its spatial geography. The author’s proximate, unknown father was a potent figure that the author would glimpse in the street spaces but was never allowed to acknowledge. Twentieth century accounts of working-class life have little to say on the personal stories of families where ‘father’ was rarely present (Steedman, 1986). Here the author offers a daughter’s emotional geography of fatherlessness. To sketch a socio-cultural backcloth to the personal subplot, the author draws on scholarship about fatherhood, fatherlessness and lone motherhood as a way to discuss men’s involvement in fathering in relation to the author’s own experience of living without a father in a paternalistic company village. Turning to the author’s return in 2015 as a researcher, the author uses autoethnography to explore the personal familial subplot bubbling underneath the main project. The author charts how the methodologies used held affordances which offered a process of coming to terms with the inter-connections of spatial and familial absence and loss: the loss of author’s home-village where memories of an absent father were played out and the revelation of the loss of an already absent father through a DNA test. In this way, it traces the shifting movements of a familial (dis)-connection through memories, photographs and mobile research encounters against the backcloth of the absent spaces of an ex-industrial community.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the people of the landscapes of loss study who gave their time and memories of Carpetmakers and Carpetvillage in the research encounters of this study. Thanks to Laura Ettenfield for invaluable help with the project. Thanks to Laura Davies. For sharp insights and more on an earlier draft of this chapter thanks to Sarah Doonican. Some have listened to this personal narrative over a long period: Nick Cox, Kate O’Neill and Jane Shaw, to you, my heartfelt thanks.
Taylor, L. (2019), "Losing a Father in an Ex-industrial Landscape: A Researcher’s Emotional Geography", Murray, L., McDonnell, L., Hinton-Smith, T., Ferreira, N. and Walsh, K. (Ed.) Families in Motion: Ebbing and Flowing through Space and Time, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 177-194. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78769-415-620191011Download as .RIS
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