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“We Are in the Museum Nowˮ. Narrating and Representing Dock Work

Janine Schemmer

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Global developments like the introduction of the container since the 1960s strongly influenced work structures and spaces of action for dock workers. This article looks at the experiences of these workers and their positioning within this process. It presents some central findings of my PhD dissertation, an empirical study analysing the narrations of former Hamburg dock workers about spatial and socio-cultural transformations. Only a few years after the arrival of the container in Hamburg, skilled professions replaced traditional ones in order to secure container handling. These structural transformations led to better social and financial conditions of those able to continue their work and resulted in changed self-images of those pursuing a career. Besides the technical transformation, a parallel process of musealisation of dock work took place, documenting these developments. The involvement and commitment of former workers in the Harbour Museum further indicate a shift in the economic and cultural capital of some protagonists.


Bibliographie: Schemmer, Janine: “We Are in the Museum Nowˮ. Narrating and Representing Dock Work, BIOS – Zeitschrift für Biographieforschung, Oral History und Lebensverlaufsanalysen, 2-2018, S. 114-125.