Historians working in the field of Public History analyze representations of the past that the public consumes (in films, books, museums etc.) and engage with the practice of history making outside of academia. This is a major focus of my work as a teacher and supervisor, as a community activist, and as a university-based researcher.
A Companion to Public History
This collection of thirty-four essays shows the ways in which the field of public history as evolved internationally over the past thirty years. I deliberate sought out authors from many disciplines, backgrounds, and interests. Collectively the essays showcase the shapes, forms, and places of public history and most engage with methodological and theoretical problems associated with the field. It is heavily illustrated and has some varied formats (interview, conversation, photo essay) that facilitate use in the classroom. A version of the introduction has been translated into several languages and these are posted here for open-access download.
A Brief Introduction to Public History
This is a succinct version of the introduction to A Companion to Public History and is offered for free download in several languages. More to come, and enquiries, suggestions very welcome!
English (coming) | Japanese (coming) | Chinese (coming)
International Public History
In 2017 I was elected to the steering committee of the International Federation for Public History and am editor of its journal, International Public History with Dr. Andreas Etges.
I have presented at the International Federation for Public History conferences in Beijing, Bogota, Ravenna, Sao Paolo, and at workshops and seminars in Wroclaw, Jakarta, and Tokyo.
The Carleton Centre for Public History
I co-direct the Carleton Centre for Public History with Dr. John Walsh. The Centre collaborates with public history practitioners outside the academy as well as with individuals and communities on a variety of projects such as Lost Stories and Capital History.
I am currently collaborating with the following organizations:
– National Capital Commission on local heritage projects in Ottawa-Gatineau
– Ingenium (Canada Science and Technology Museum, Canada Aviation Museum, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum) on numerous history projects
– design firm Chapter One Studio on exhibits, travelling kits, books
– the Workers’ History Museum on exhibits and other forms of storytelling
– the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum on exhibit content
– Carleton’s CIMS lab on a virtual storytelling platform for the National Arts Centre’s 50th
– and with the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity researching stories for the new 2SLGBTQIA+ museum in Ottawa.
Past Centre projects included an award-winning digital app exploring the history of the Rideau Canal and a series of interviews with the renowned Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal.
Museums and Monuments
Some of my work in the field of public history has focused on the role of museums in shaping national identity and controversies in national museums. I’ve spoken to the media about changes to several national museums most recently with Alan Neale in CBC’s All in a Day. Listen here.
More recently I’ve written on monuments, including introducing a special section of International Public History on the topic. I also guest edited a special issue of Peace & Conflict thanks to an invitation from Dr. Susan Opotow:
Museums as Sites for Historical Understanding, Peace, and Social Justice: Views from Canada (2013) Special issue of Peace and Conflict. Journal of Peace Psychology (2013)
The articles that constitute this special issue examine the role of museums in promoting peace and social justice through developing historical understanding and historical consciousness. By telling stories about the past for an audience in the present, history museums operate in the belief that knowing what has happened in the past helps us understand who we are, and for some this is a first step in the long process of achieving social justice and perhaps even resolving conflict. By bringing difficult subjects, traumatic experiences, and injustices into the open, by making them visible, and by finding ways in which visitors can critically engage with them, these museums play an essential role in contemporary society.
“Politics and Memory in Canada’s New History Museum”Memoria e Ricerca. Rivista di Storia Contemporanea XXV NS, n. 54 (2018), 117-33.