From Berlin, to the Ukraine, to Pentyrch.

After my course tutor Olwen’s further feedback, I have chosen to narrow my field of research to a much smaller area.  My chosen theme of Power and Technology within the city initially led me to research the history of Berlin in great detail, and the effect that political power can have on a place and the people within it.  As a self-confessed history nerd, the prospect of studying Berlin in great detail was very exciting, but admittedly the further I delved the more doors it opened, and I was struggling to reign it in.  I ended up with so much knowledge that I was struggling to pick an avenue to go down.

Ironically enough, one of the first things I had written in my sketchbook was how I would be choosing to focus my research solely on Berlin, because it was “vastly more interesting and appealing to me as a city than Cardiff is.”  How wrong I was.  After my tutorial which involved myself and several students from my course where we discussed each other’s ideas and various methods of taking our ideas forward, after much discussion with Olwen I decided to bring my area of research back to Cardiff.  I was pursuing the idea of how political power can change the entire dynamic of a city very quickly, as demonstrated by the recent turmoils in the Ukraine, particularly in Kiev.  Massive public demonstrations happening daily, with thousands of people voicing their opinions and messages.  During the unrest, for a brief time there was a ban on the use of various social media sites in the Ukraine which limited the people of Ukraine as far as communicating with the outside world was concerned.  In this modern age where almost everybody has a mobile phone and a large number of those have photo capturing capabilities, it’s hard for anything to go unnoticed.

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Independence Square, Kiev.

During this brief time where more technologically advanced methods of communication were made difficult, the people of Ukraine still had ways of spreading messages of tolerance, peace, or conversely, hatred.  People were and still are scrawling messages on walls, drawing graffiti, and writing messages of hope for all to see.

Seeing the effect that modern methods of communication can have on the dynamic of a situation got me thinking about the past, when the methods of getting messages to one another could now be described as almost primitive.  Hundreds of years ago without mobile phones, cameras, the internet – how did this information get out?  Without modern technologies it would take weeks for news of a crisis in the Middle East for example to reach BBC headquarters in London.

“Breaking news from the Ukraine… from several weeks ago, it’s just that we’ve only just heard about it.”

Trying to bring my focus a little closer to home, I thought about where I had grown up.  Pentyrch.  My family have lived in Pentyrch since the 1700s, and stories of people from hundreds of years ago are still mentioned around the dinner table.  Tales from the 1800s and 1900s which you could assume would be lost to the ages are told in remarkable detail, again and again, as if my current family members and fellow Pentyrchians were there to witness them.  Yes, they’re largely conjecture and hyperbolic, but the fact that I even know about them is fascinating to me.  In an age where it’s commonplace to Instagram one’s lunch, or check-in your every location on Facebook, you may start to think that modern technology is 100% necessary in remembering an event, person or occasion.  Perhaps if we weren’t so dependent on social media to store our personal histories for us, we’d take greater care in remembering them in the first place.  With such a reliance on social media documenting our every move, it’s easy enough to mindlessly take pictures and update statuses, but will these be remembered in years to come?  Doubtful.

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If I didn’t know so much about Pentyrch I wouldn’t have narrowed my site research to such a small place, but fortunately for me I have hundreds of years worth of family history to draw from, and also a wealth of Garth Domain publications.  These publications are centred around Pentyrch and the surrounding Parish areas of Creigiau, Gwaelod-y-Garth and Taffs Well.  They’re published by a family friend, who I hope to talk to and glean further information from.

(If you’d like to read them or are interested in Pentyrch/Cardiff history, you can find them here)

There are reams and reams of articles to sift through, so I’d better get started…

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