I am contacting you to announce the launch of a new public history initiative in the UK (out of the History Department at Royal Holloway University of London). The site is called Doing Public History (www.doingpublichistory.org)
Now is a timely opportunity to prompt public debate about the nature and role of history in Britain. Indeed, for example, the current discussion in the press about ‘Britishness’ and the selection of a national memorial day, as well as TV series like Great Britons, indicates that there is popular context and demand for such discussion.
Beyond engaging with the local commemoration of important anniversaries, centenaries and bicentenaries (think of The Gunpowder Plot, Trafalgar Day, Magna Carta Day, Holocaust Memorial Day, Black History Month and a number of WW2 events) there is little cogent reflection on the relationship between the academic historian and the public.
On the contrary in the USA, Australia, and France during the late 1980s and after, (for example the 500th anniversary of Columbus, the bicentenary of white settlement/First Fleet in 1988 for Australia, The 200th anniversary of the 1776 and 1789 Revolutions) the public events were driven, reflected in and prompted considerable scholarly and public debate. These were all huge, government funded productions which brought in academics to serve a national agenda with the possibilities of attempting to narrate a 'national history'.
In other cultures control and definition of the historical past has very significant current political ramifications; the example of a contested public history is more evident in the case of Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK.
I’d be grateful if you could post this message on any appropriate websites or listings in your academic circles and other local and public communities.
We’d very much like to attract participants – editors, reviewers, commentators, readers – for all parts of the globe.
Justin Champion MA PhD (Cantab) FRHistS FRSA
Head of Department
Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas
Director of Executive, Electronic and External Programmes (Development)
Department of History
Royal Holloway, Egham
Surrey, TW20 OEX
www.doingpublichistory.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the website at http://www.doingpublichistory.org
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