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New Field, Old Practices: Promises and Challenges of Public History

Thomas Cauvin    C2DH, Université du Luxembourg    



Although public history is becoming increasingly international, the field remains difficult to define and subject to some criticism. Based on sometimes long-established public practices, public history displays new approaches to audiences, collaboration and authority in history production. This article provides an overview of public history, its various definitions and historiography, and discusses some of the main criticisms of the field. Public history is compared to a tree of knowledge whose parts (roots, trunk, branches and leaves) represent the many collaborative and interconnected stages in the field. Defining public history as a systemic process (tree) demonstrates the need for collaboration between the different actors – may they be trained historians or not – and aim to focus on the role they play in the overall process. The future of international public history will involve balancing practice-based approaches with more theoretical discussions on the role of trained historians, audiences and different uses of the past.

Subtags: Textual data Society Publication Communities Participation Discourse Afterlife Hermeneutics Documents

30 Giugno 2021
02 Febbraio 2021

Keywords: Public historyTrainingCollaborationHistoriographyMemoryEthics

Copyright: © 2021 Thomas Cauvin. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.