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13 March 2023 - 13 March 2023

1:00PM - 2:00PM

Cosin's Hall, Seminar Room, Palace Green

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An IAS Fellowship Seminar by Dr David Kneas (University of South Carolina)

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Image courtesy of iStock


For nearly a century, a glassworks factory dumped excess waste into the North Sea at County Durham’s Seaham Beach. Sculpted by time and tidal action, this waste has now transformed into an object of value: sea glass. Seaham has become an iconic place within the transatlantic world of sea glass and beachcombing, and a site of personal meaning and significance for regular Seaham beachcombers. In this talk, Dr David Kneas examines the articulations of time that underpin the resource value of Seaham’s sea glass. At once a symbol of the transforming power of the North Sea, sea glass also derives its worth from its association with a prior era of human-material relations, in which social worlds of glass are contrasted in longing ways with current ones of plastic. In the context of environmental renewal across the Durham coastline, this research explores the types of history and forms of nostalgia that sea glass and sea glass creations call to mind. At the same time, the popularity of Seaham’s glass has evoked increased anxiety about resource exhaustion, a concern held especially by local beachcombers. Dr Kneas is interested in how understandings of the past intersect with apprehension about uncertain resource horizons, and what Seaham’s present can teach us about the temporalities post-industrial change.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues or students interested in attending in person should register a place here.