Thomas Cauvin, European University Institute
James B. Gardner, National Archives and Records Administration
Arnita A. Jones, Executive Director, American Historical Association, emerita
Yasmin Saikia, Arizona State University
Christine Szuter, Arizona State University
The theme for the AHA’s annual meeting in Chicago in 2012 is “networks and communities,” an organizing frame that fits public historians and their work around the world particularly well. “Networks” of historians from cultural institutions and universities everywhere work with “communities” of all kinds -- professionals from the university and the wider community of scholars and practitioners come together to address major questions of applied history and humanities and share those, in turn, with the local and the global community.
Public History is the rigorous research, analysis, and interpretation of history engaged in by professional historians and other interdisciplinary scholars in cultural institutions and the academy around the world. Public historians present interdisciplinary scholarship to diverse audiences—audiences who vary by class, race, gender, tribe, nationality, religion, language, education level, sense of place, expectations, and uses of memory—audiences whose notions of history and the meanings and insights of the humanities may differ profoundly from one another. Underlying the public practice of history are questions, such as who owns history; what is community, multidirectional memory, history, or culture; and what is sustainable or negotiable in each of these areas. These public ways of doing history are community stories about power and place, but they are equally global questions and must be addressed from the very local to the broadly international level.
The roundtable that we propose brings together the transdisciplinary strengths and transnational diversity of the university and the public sector to address problems and projects in informal learning settings (museums; historic preservation projects; communities and organizations that want to understand, document, and share their stories and significance) public art, oral histories and community story-telling, and publishing and old and new media presentations related to our local, state, and global communities. There are six members of the panel; each will speak for ten minutes about their particular area of expertise and then the floor will be opened to questions from the audience and discussion among the panelists.