Globalising care? Town twinning in Britain since 1945
Geoforum, 42, (1), . (doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2010.10.006).
Town twinning describes the establishment and practice, by various groups and to various ends, of relatively formal and long-term relationships between settlements usually located in different nation-states. Twin towns are sometimes called sister cities. This paper draws on a study of town twinning that focused on the involvement of British localities since the end of the Second World War and analysed data collected by the Local Government Association (for England and Wales), materials archived in the National Archives at Kew, London and various local record offices, and transcripts of interviews with representatives of relevant local, national, and international organisations. The paper makes three main contributions. Firstly, it provides a brief history of town twinning involving British localities. Secondly, it develops from this historical narrative an original conceptualisation of town twinning, arguing that it should be approached less as a coherent movement and more as a device, a repertoire, and a model. Thirdly, it argues that town twinning has often been used as a device for extending care across space – and that much can be learned from its history for contemporary geographies of care. Town twinning participants have approached the problem of care-at-a-distance as both an ontological problem and a practical problem. Some have focused more than others on the role of distanciated causal relationships in the generation of needs in distant places. Some are currently encountering another problem as they attempt to globalise care: the problem of care-in-a-hurry.
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