Author: James B. Gardner,Paula Hamilton
Publisher: Oxford University Press
The Oxford Handbook of Public History introduces the major debates within public history; the methods and sources that comprise a public historian's tool kit; and exemplary examples of practice. It views public history as a dynamic process combining historical research and a wide range of work with and for the public, informed by a conceptual context. The editors acknowledge the imprecision bedeviling attempts to define public history, and use this book as an opportunity to shape the field by taking a deliberately broad view. They include professional historians who work outside the academy in a range of institutions and sites, and those who are politically committed to communicating history to the wide range of audiences. This volume provides the information and inspiration needed by a practitioner to succeed in the wide range of workplaces that characterizes public history today, for university teachers of public history to assist their students, and for working public historians to keep up to date with recent research. This handbook locates public history as a professional practice within an intellectual framework that is increasingly transnational, technological, and democratic. While the nation state remains the primary means of identification, increased mobility and the digital revolution have occasioned a much broader outlook and awareness of the world beyond national borders. It addresses squarely the tech-savvy, media-literate citizens of the world, the"digital natives" of the twenty-first century, in a way that recognizes the revolution in shared authority that has swept museum work, oral history, and much of public history practice. This volume also provides both currently practicing historians and those entering the field a map for understanding the historical landscape of the future: not just to the historiographical debates of the academy but also the boom in commemoration and history outside the academy evident in many countries since the 1990s, which now constitutes the historical culture in each country. Public historians need to understand both contexts, and to negotiate their implications for questions of historical authority and the public historian's work. The boom in popular history is characterized by a significant increase in both making and consuming history in a range of historical activities such as genealogy, family history, and popular collecting; cultural tourism, historic sites, and memorial museums; increased memorialization, both formal and informal, from roadside memorials to state funded shrines and memorial Internet sites; increased publication of historical novels, biographies, and movies and TV series set in the past. Much of this, as well as a vast array of new community cultural projects, has been facilitated by the digital technologies that have increased the accessibility of historical information, the democratization of practice, and the demand for sharing authority.