Historic sites, museums, archives, and monuments are neither neutral nor objective. Many were established to strengthen tradition, reinforce the cultural authority of elites, and inhibit change. Today, these sites have become the focal point of protest, symbols in a larger fight for inclusiveness and equality.
In this talk, Dr. Denise Meringolo identifies different, less well-documented forms of public history practice. She draws attention to individuals who understood collecting, preserving, analyzing, and interpreting the past as entirely compatible with –even necessary for—productive political discourse, and embraced the potential of their work to promote social justice. She raises important questions about the nature, limitations, and conditions of social justice oriented historical work. And, she asks us to consider the ways in which the invisibility of this form of public history practice has prevented us from fully theorizing civic engagement as a core practice of historical professionalism.