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Keywords:

  • nostalgia;
  • Tyneside (United Kingdom);
  • ex-residents;
  • memory;
  • conservation;
  • urban planning

Drawing on interviews with ex-residents of Tyneside (United Kingdom), this paper builds on recent reappraisals of nostalgia as a ‘productive’ and ‘living’ disposition, to show how fond memories and a sense of loss shape and sustain engagement with the city. In contrast to recent attempts to identify active nostalgia only with its ‘reflective’ forms, or to separate out ‘official’ and ‘non-official’ nostalgia, the paper demonstrates that nostalgias are mobile and interwoven. It is shown that ‘restorative’ and ‘reflective’ forms can co-exist and state-led practices of conservation be maintained in a complex and mutually sustaining relationship with more personal, less official, visions of the value of the past. Thus it is argued that urban nostalgia for the city needs to be acknowledged as a potentially critical intervention that draws together different modes of attachment and yearning.