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Istituto per i Beni Culturali Emilia-Romagna

Memoria e Ricerca

Public History: a Ghost Discipline?

di Serge Noiret
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 37 (2011), p. 9

The essay aims to analyze how the past is appropriated in the European Public Sphere and which institutions, media and actors are involved in Public History practices. In contrast to the Anglo-Saxon world, a variety of Public History discourses and practices emerged in continental Europe where the English term was rarely translated or deployed: only very rarely are “applied historians” or Public Historians practicing the discipline in a self-conscious manner. In Europe, Public History is often linked to collective identities at different levels: from local memories to the construction of regional, national and pan-European “Heimats” and “realms of memory”. Thus, Europeans create multi-dimensional identities and traditions that are based upon Public History activities. This essay identifies the presence in the “polis”, of Public History and Public Historians “without the name”, using two case-studies, that of national history museums, and that of the emotional perception of the U.S. Civil War in Europe. Key words: Public History; Digital Public History; National History Museums; History And Policy; Memory