"Challenging the exclusive past": 2016 conference call
08 May 2015 – editors
Formal preservation and interpretation of the past began as a movement to celebrate great men and elite spaces. Slowly, and with difficulty, this is becoming a more democratic and inclusive effort. We believe that public historians have an important role to play in the ongoing work to expand national, state, local, and global narratives. What are the most effective and engaging means for expanding interpretive practices and professional spaces in order to promote full inclusion of previously marginalized peoples and places? To what extent have new, more democratic and engaged public history practices changed museum collections and exhibits, preservation practice, law, and public commemoration? And what happens when formerly disenfranchised publics assert their right to tell their own histories? These questions get at the very meanings of public history and citizenship. As 2016 will mark the centennial of the National Park Service and fifty years of the National Historic
Preservation Act, in Baltimore we invite public historians to explore the promise, the successes, and the challenges of developing a more inclusive public history landscape in the twenty-first century.
Questions to consider:
- How are successful collaborations between public historians and under-represented communities built?
- How do new practices, including digital history, open up narratives and collaborations for public historians that challenge the exclusive past?
- How do government historians and agencies work with communities, such as Indigenous nations, that share traumatic histories with the government?
- How do historians establish the trust necessary to work with and within communities of which they are not members? Conversely, how do historians who are community “insiders” experience and navigate the issue of trust?
- How do we reach public historians practicing outside of established institutions and build a more diverse guild?
- To what extent have government historians influenced public policy makers? And should they?
- What are the risks of using traditional great men and great event narratives when highlighting the histories of under-represented groups? Do we ignore or obscure important counter narratives when we follow this course?
- What role can historic preservation play in revitalizing communities?
- How can public historians contribute to the preservation of previously marginalized places?
- How and should activism and public history meet? Can such intersections lead to more inclusive histories?
- How do public historians weave together local, national, and global narratives to create meaningful histories for all communities?
Information about formats can be found in the full call for proposals here.
See the NCPH website for details about submitting your proposal and be sure to peruse past NCPH and SHFG programs for ideas about new session/event formats.
How to submit your proposal:
Optional Early Topic Proposal deadline: This is for people who are interested in presenting on a certain topic but are looking for ideas to more fully develop their proposal or are looking for collaborators/co-panelists. Fill out the topic-only proposal form online by June 1, 2015. Topics received by that date will be distributed to NCPH and SHFG members via email, and posted to the Public History Commons for feedback and offers of collaboration. Respondents will contact the original submitter directly with their ideas or offers, and the submitter may choose to select additional participants, refine the proposal, and complete a full proposal form online by the July deadline.
Final Proposal Deadline: Submit your fully formed session, working group, individual paper, or workshop proposal online by July 15, 2015.