Trudy Huskamp Peterson
Over the past decade, professionals working to reform justice systems and reestablish the rule of law in countries that previously had repressive regimes developed a framework for thinking about the demands that arise for dealing with the brutal heritage of government repression. The framework has four parts: holding perpetrators accountable, ensuring that there is no recurrence by reforming institutions and vetting personnel, seeking the truth of what happened to individuals and to the society as a whole, and obtaining reparation for the harm done, personally or collectively. Each of these demands can be met through various mechanisms, but all of them depend on archives. Rebuilding the justice sector and the nation through access to archives is a vital element in coming to terms with the past. The role of archivists as duty bearers for human rights is increasingly important.
This chapter traces the separation of preserved historical farm landscapes from working agriculture over the two-century history of industrial ascendancy, the dominance of fossil fuels after World War II, and the emergence of a for-profit/nonprofit and public/private divide within the increasingly revitalized world of small-scale farming. It argues that there are several benefits to public historians of aligning their work more closely with “local food” movement activities and activism and that these new alliances can make public history a more consequential participant in the broader civic project of understanding and adapting to many environmental and economic changes . The chapter presents examples of emerging projects that do seek to connect directly with food-movement goals, including through engagement with issues of social, environmental, and economic justice related to food production, access, and consumption.
How can we as oral and public historians harness the power of place in our research and interpretive practice? The built environment’s potential as a prompt to remember has been heralded by many scholars drawn to the so-called mobility turn in the social sciences and humanities. This new paradigm is encouraging scholars and artists to engage with the materiality of the built and natural environments and with communities themselves. This chapter examines the ways in which oral and public historians have harnessed the power of place in situ when interpreting transformative urban and economic change: deindustrialization, gentrification, modernization, and renewal. It offers the notion of “brownfield public history” to denote industrial heritage projects that are bound-up in these ongoing socio-economic and political processes.
This chapter considers the business of history in the context of the common business mission to satisfy customers and employees while generating sufficient profits to sustain the enterprise. It emphasizes the customer’s role in defining markets for history and explores how customers value history to establish identity, to obtain and apply historical knowledge, or for entertainment. It argues that history businesses need professional historians who are competitive, collaborative, and capable while suggesting criteria for good history and skill sets for marketable historians. Finally, it briefly highlights the role of money in fueling and measuring business success while challenging the notion that history produced for a profit is inherently untrustworthy.
Since the popular emergence of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, nothing has been clearer about the digital environment than that it changes at a breakneck pace, making it a constant challenge of adaptation for content providers. Public historians who may have come of age in the context of writing either concise wall labels for the public or extended scholarly articles and conference papers for their fellow historians might find the pace and the level of flexibility and interactivity of the Web disconcerting, but in the end, the advantages for the practice of public history are extensive. Breaking the constraints of a physical site by effectively using the Web leaves public historians constrained only by their time, resources, and imagination. This chapter deals specifically with the various modes of communication that are available to public historians through the use of new media.
This chapter defines community in its broadest sense as shared experience based on ethnicity, racial origins, religion, geography, or other cultural values. It provides examples of public history projects in museums, preservation of historical resources, and oral history that demonstrate how the collaborative nature of community history requires shared authority, dialogue, and participatory management. These projects exemplify best practices for successful community-based history that balance experience with expertise; historical analysis with current-day relevance; and inner dialogue with public discourse. The chapter considers why community history matters as a form of civic dialogue and how emerging technology may impact and challenge public history dialogue in the future.
From Environmental Liability to Community Asset: Public History, Communities, and Environmental Reclamation
T. Allan Comp
This chapter explores linking economic redevelopment with a recognition of regional legacy. It provided an opportunity to apply public history to real-world needs and to do something with history on a larger scale and led to the work discussed here. “AMD&ART” is now both the name of a park in Vintondale, Pennsylvania, and the name of an idea, a commitment to interdisciplinary work in the service of community aspirations to address environmental challenges. As an idea, AMD&ART is a lasting antidote to the complex problems of coal country that is, and in fact must be, cultural and environmental; only a place-based multidisciplinary solution that starts with good history has the power to transform environmental liabilities into community assets that engage a broad spectrum of support.
Government-supported history is as broad and many faceted as the field of public history itself, including not only research and public programming in museums and historic sites but also client-oriented research in the executive, legislative, and military branches of government. This chapter focuses on the work of historians who help to solve problems and provide context for the ongoing work of government agencies and institutions. Serving policy and decision makers, they capture and preserve records, artifacts, and other historical materials; they write institutional histories and policy analysis and they help answer inquiries from citizens and journalists about the work of government. Historians who do this work may be permanent government employees, but they may also be contractors for government agencies, serve as researchers and writers for independent government commissions, or staff special government-funded projects housed at educational and nonprofit institutions.
This chapter provides a guide for history and heritage professionals in navigating the United Nations. The chapter is divided in two parts. The first section examines the history and heritage policy work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO). UNESCO is the main UN body to set standards for history and heritage professions. The second section turns the focus back onto the United Nations as an object of historical study. This section discusses major examples of historical projects about the United Nations. Overall, the chapter explains the origins of UN involvement in heritage and history, describes the relevant structures and functions in the United Nations and UNESCO, and discusses some of the outcomes of history and heritage activities with which it has been involved. The chapter argues for the importance of studying UN history, as well as engaging more closely with its policy work.
In the nineteenth century, elites saw museums as a tool to shape a citizenry, to mold a national identity. Even as the New Social History of the 1960s pushed for a more inclusive history, the idea of a shared American identity remained largely intact. In the 1990s, however, museums started to think of identity as more multifaceted and fragmented. History became a collection of stories whose morals and even main characters varied according to one’s perspective. Exhibitions encouraged visitors to explore their individual identities, and ethnically specific museums emerged to reinforce particular community identities. Recent years have seen another shift: some museums see their job less as to reinforce visitors’ identities than to show how identity works—how it is continually negotiated by individuals, communities, and cultures.
Jonathan Sweet and Fengqi Qian
Government, tourism developers, and communities appreciate the cultural significance of historic sites from varied viewpoints. This chapter aims to provide an effective lens through which to view the development trajectory of China’s cultural heritage tourism. A central thread is the relationship between cultural heritage tourism and the shaping of the public view of history, examined using the case study of Chengde, a World Heritage Site in China. The study provides insight into the contested use of the space by different parties through analysis of Chengde’s symbolic value in promoting ethnic diversity and enhancing national unity. Although the focus on the site’s cultural significance has resulted in a variety of public programs, interpretation of the site reflects values consistent with government objectives and commercial interests. The ability of the site to incorporate multiple perspectives in heritage interpretation is limited by underdeveloped community consultation and participation in the heritage management process.
This chapter argues that Cambodian and Cambodian American survivors of genocide avoid telling and documenting their personal stories of trauma because the rendering of these stories complicates the community’s understanding of morality. This is in part because the circumstances of the Khmer Rouge genocide were such that no clear “other” enemy emerged—a genocide perpetrated by and on Cambodians. By speaking out and telling their stories through oral histories, films, books, etc., Cambodians can implicate themselves, evoking shame and guilt in addition to trauma. The author examines and compares the relative “silence” among Cambodians with regard to the history of the telling of survivor stories among Holocaust survivors in the United States and Europe.
Paul Ashton, Kresno Brahmantyo, and Jaya Keaney
Public history in Indonesia today faces considerable challenges. Despite the downfall of the New Order regime, its nationalist history program and agenda remain powerful in the culture. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the construction and use of authorized monuments and memorials. Monuments and memorials are evocative and affective; they promote and perpetuate emotional bonds. Drawing on familiar materials and symbols, they are aimed at particular audiences in specific contexts, and they are intended to be efficacious. As objects with the potential to affect communities or whole societies, they are also contestable. This chapter draws on what are arguably two of the most prominent public monuments and memorials in Indonesia—the Sacred Pancasila Monument (Monumen Pancasila Sakti), which speaks primarily to an internal or domestic audience, and the memorial to the victims of the Bali bombing in Kuta, which is primarily aimed at an international audience.
Serge Noiret and Thomas Cauvin
This chapter explores the transformation of public history in relation to internationalization in the humanities, audiences, media, and historian networks. The rising number of public history programs worldwide provides opportunities for international collaboration and discussion. We posit that the multiplication of international public history projects and programs and the global use of the English language and the Internet encourage new historical approaches and practices. One way to address the internationalization of public history is to urge glocal interpretations of the past. Public historians are increasingly responsible for making sense of the links among local, national, and international interpretations of the past. We suggest anchoring the actual evolution of public history in a general definition of the interactive concept of local/global in social sciences. Then, we describe the consequences of the internationalization process for public history practices. Specifically, we examine how the process of internationalization influences public history teaching and training.
The Legacy of Collecting: Colonial Collecting in the Belgian Congo and the Duty of Unveiling Provenance
This chapter portrays the historical actors who established the unique ethnographic collections of the Royal Museum for Central Africa and the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History (Belgium). The objects they collected, like the majority of those in the museum, arrived in Belgium during the colonial period. The government of the Congo Free State, then the Ministry of Colonies and several scientific institutes issued directives encouraging their agents to collect artifacts, as well as photographic images of “indigenous types” and specimens of physical anthropology. This chapter examines the current amnesia about human remains of colonial provenance and the challenges surrounding the exhibition of religious objects now presented as great artworks of universal interest by metropolitan museums. Addressing the ethics of curatorial practice, the chapter proposes that curators of ethnological collections of colonial provenance, as public historians, strive to make collecting history accessible to larger audiences in their exhibitions.
Graham Smith and Anna Green
This chapter explores a range of representations of Magna Carta in the public sphere, and the authors argue that the significance of the Great Charter lies less in constitutional history and more in the different political uses to which the Charter has been put over time. Plans for the 800th commemoration of the Charter in 2015, proposed by both national and local organizations, are examined through oral history interviews with some of the leading participants. These plans ranged from the ideologically conservative and international collaborations of elite national organizations to the more inclusive commemorative activities of the local community. However, the tensions within both local and national projects of commemoration, the absence of broad public involvement, and the financial recession reduced what was intended as high-profile celebration to a more muted and elitist form.
The purpose of this chapter is to examine the surge of identity politics and the diversification of heritage and the tensions that arise with the traditional role of national museums that are expected to support the model of a unitary national identity through their narratives and collections. Engaging with distinct patrimonies and transformations in museums checkmates stagnant notions of heritage, but in turn, these actions might also instigate resistance to change. A case study at the National Museum of Colombia will provide an insight into competing notions of heritage, which can be understood as the relics of a material past, but may also be seen as the meanings created about the past. This analysis instigates thoughts about the role that history and historians might play in the elaboration of narratives of identity.
James B. Gardner and Paula Hamilton
Against a background of extensive political and social change across the world since the 1990s, this chapter explores the development of public history in an international context. It charts the definitional issues in public history, the spread of public history as a concept and practice, and the development of training programs in several countries, outlining differences and similarities. It also examines the changing context for public history theory and practice, with particular attention to the impact of scholarship such as memory studies and critical heritage on the field. Finally, it outlines the rise of China and the shift in perspective this entails for international public historians.
This chapter discusses the increasing prevalence within cultural institutions for recognizing and mourning “public deaths,” specifically via the proliferation of memorial museums worldwide. Marking episodes of great violence resulting from genocide, terrorism, crimes against humanity, and state “disappearances,” these institutions aim to remember, educate, and advocate against the recurrence of such events. Within their exhibitions, favored modes of historical retelling highlight the personal biographies and stories of victims. Personal objects, photographs, and mementos are arranged within experiential spaces that narrate the course of events and often suggest psychic forms of trauma. Such exhibitions aim to create vivid and authentic visitor experiences that bring people together in new forms of shared memory formation. The personalization of victims of violent events aims to create empathy in visitors and a sense of transferability (“it could have been me”) in hopes of forging a stronger commitment toward tolerance and increased vigilance against persecution.
This chapter focuses on how German politics and society have approached the difficult history of a country that caused World War II and the extermination of millions of Jews during Nazi rule. Hope and memory or expectation and experience are introduced as two major theoretical categories that determine the degree of a successful historical reflection. The manifestations of memory in institutions of public history such as historical sites, monuments, and museums are discussed. The chapter analyzes the political interests that have determined memory politics in different phases of German postwar history. It reflects the attempts that have been made in literature or other forms of public history to integrate the subjective dimension into the perception of history. Facing the past is seen as an ongoing process in an open society in which diverse competitive narratives emerge and constantly reshape society’s cultural self-understanding.