Transatlantic ‘Structure of Feeling’: The Loyal Order of the Moose organisation in Wales and USA

Allbwn ymchwil: Cyfraniad at gynhadleddPapuradolygiad gan gymheiriaid


This paper discusses the my film, photography and oral history research project exploring the cultural politics of both the south Wales Valleys (UK) and the rust belt USA to find surprising transatlantic connections through the remarkable untold story of the organisation - The Loyal Order of Moose (LOOM).

Founder of LOOM, James J Davis was a Welsh Immigrant ‘Iron Puddler’ who served as Secretary of Labour under three American Presidents, leading the working-class fraternal organisation during a period of its unprecedented expansion in the depression-era. Davis returned to his birth-place in Tredegar, Wales, briefly in 1926 to establish ‘UK Lodge Number 1’ which still exists today. At its height, LOOM had a membership of 1.5 million members in the US, Canada, Bermuda and the UK

The development of the organisation has often been problematic. Some of Davis’ ideas informing the growth of LOOM were unsavory, including an interest in Eugenics. It is possible to trace connections between the order and the reemergence of residual reactionary ideas in the Trump-era, and indeed in the UK in terms of the contradictory ‘Brexit’ vote in the post-industrial communities of south Wales. However, I argue that beneath these grand-narratives lies a complex and surprising structure of feeling that can only be engaged through a truly collaborative practice. For example, one point of exploration in my project is the link between LOOM’S ad-hoc health insurance and the formation of the UK National Health Service by Labour MP Aneurin Bevan in Tredegar. Bevan actively tried to distance himself from Davis’ reactionary politics in his lifetime, for example, refusing to meet with him on a visit to the town in 1936.

My practice-based research, using documentary photography, film and collaboration, seeks to find a new approach to picturing place, where both evidence and emotion can inform picture-making strategies. A dialogue between, rather than a polarisation of ‘fact and feeling’ are central to my attempt to establish a practice attentive to the ‘social whole’ of individual and community- balancing content and form, subject and object, and the historic and the present.

My film, photography and oral history research collaboration with the fascinating Loyal Order of Moose organisation is particularly urgent in the light of the changes affecting the organisation. In the UK alone standing as 500 men and women in 25 lodges, with two lodges closing in 2016.

In March 2018 I undertook a research trip to the USA to photograph and film the LOOM lodges and interview members in communities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, as well as to visit archives and throughout the US

The project is supported by University of South Wales, European Centre for Documentary Research, National Library of Wales, and a number of other exhibition partners.
Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
StatwsCyhoeddwyd - 1 Maw 2018
DigwyddiadSociety for Photographic Education Annual Conference 2018 Philadelphia : Uncertain Times: Borders, Refuge, Community, Nationhood - Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Yr Unol Daleithiau
Hyd: 1 Maw 20184 Maw 2018


CynhadleddSociety for Photographic Education Annual Conference 2018 Philadelphia
Gwlad/TiriogaethYr Unol Daleithiau
Cyfeiriad rhyngrwyd

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