Heritage, hauntology and future Paisley: visions of the future and absence in urban regeneration discourse(s)

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Culture and heritage have come to occupy a certain ubiquity within discourse of urban regeneration, particularly in ‘post-industrial’ contexts (see Miles and Paddison, 2005). This creates the immediate paradox wherein discourses of the past have become implicated in visions of the future, echoing what Derrida termed ‘Hauntology’. Hauntology, for Derrida (1993), describes the (im)possibility of being fully present, instead arguing the present (as a seemingly fixed temporal context) always exists in tandem with the past and the future. Mark Fisher (2014) used the term in a somewhat more specific manner, articulating the tendency to invoke notions of the future by retreating into the past. It is clear, therefore, how this might be applied to discourse(s) on heritage, culture and regeneration insofar as urban regeneration policy has, with increasing frequency, sought to invoke discourse(s) of the past.

The presentation explores recent regeneration policy in the Scottish town of Paisley, and in doing so explores discourse(s) of the past, present and future within the towns ‘cultural regeneration’ programme. This presentation, therefore, presents a discourse analysis of newspaper coverage between 2015 and 2020 to explore the key messages that have been communicated about Paisley and ‘regeneration’ and, in doing so, demonstrate how narratives of regeneration in Paisley pivot on discourse(s) of the past to (re)create a vision for the future. This presentation aims, therefore, to generate a series of practical and theoretical questions that might inform further research and debate across the intersecting areas of place, heritage and regeneration.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021
EventBritish Sociological Association 70th Anniversary Virtual Conference: Remaking the Future - Online, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Apr 202115 Apr 2021
https://britsoc.co.uk/events/key-bsa-events/bsa-annual-conference-2021-remaking-the-future/ (Conference website.)


ConferenceBritish Sociological Association 70th Anniversary Virtual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • heritage
  • hauntology
  • urban regeneration planning
  • sociology
  • social science


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