Public history in a digital world: The revolution reconsidered

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Photo credit: Serge Noiret

On October 23rd, the University of Amsterdam will be hosting the first conference of the International Federation for Public History (IFPH), “Public History in a Digital World: The Revolution Reconsidered”. Several years in the making and spearheaded by the tireless efforts of Manon Parry and Paul Knevel of the University of Amsterdam and Serge Noiret, Chair of the IFPH, public history practitioners from Europe, the Americas, and Asia will come together for three days to discuss and debate what digital media brings to public history and where public history is headed in a digital world.

As has been been discussed in previous posts, public history is a growing field of study around the world. The role of digital media and “digital humanities” continues to be an important topic of discussion as we all grapple with the changes and the impact of the “digital” turn. While in North America we’ve benefited from well-established programs, such as those of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media that have allowed for significant discussion, the debate around the role and impact of digital media is a hot topic in much of Europe where digital history and public history courses and programs are multiplying and growing. For example, for the past two years, the DHLU, or Digital Humanities Luxembourg, Symposium has been held in Luxembourg as a collaborative effort of the Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l’Europe, CVEC, and the University of Luxembourg with an express focus on the various ways in which digital is used by humanities researchers, particularly contemporary historians and more specifically specialists in European integration.

While this meeting in Amsterdam may be the IFPH’s inaugural conference, IFPH has been working with public history practitioners to organize and assist with other conferences. In 2013, IFPH Chair Serge Noiret worked with Giorgos Antoniou of the School of Humanities, International Hellenic University in Thessaloniki, Greece to host the “Use and Abuse of History: the Public History in Greece” in August (not to mention the next IFPH conference in Jinan, China in 2015). Cover-Teliko The discussions are also continuing outside of the IFPH. In September 2014, the second International Symposium on Public History was held in Fluminense, Brazil, while the University of Bologna hosted its third conference on Digital Humanities.

This October in Amsterdam, the IFPH and the University of Amsterdam are building on this developing field of interest and broadening the discussion to a truly global stage as public historians from more than a dozen countries and three continents will come together, share perspectives, and help grow the international public history community (and maybe share a few Amstels in the process!). Interested in joining the conversation in Amsterdam? You still have time to register for the conference!

~ Jean-Pierre Morin serves as the Vice-Chair of the IFPH.

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