Welcome to Ravenna, the World Capital of Public History for a Week, June 5-9, 2017

From June 5 to June 9, 2017, the 4th annual conference of the International Federation for Public History (IFPH-FIHP) together with the first Italian Association of Public History (AIPH), which was set up in Rome in June 2016, will be held in the city of Ravenna, renamed for a week the “public history city”, because of the number of public history events and the amount of national and international participants who will join the conference. The AIPH is the first national public history association to be born in Europe and its general assembly will take place at Palazzo dei Congressi, Largo Firenze, 1, on June 7th at 3 p.m.

The AIPH was founded on the initiative of the Italian Giunta Centrale per gli Studi Storici and the International Federation for Public History. The AIPH constituent meeting was held in Rome on June 21, 2016 on the initiative of the President of the Giunta, Andrea Giardina, and of a promotional committee made of representatives from 18 Italian scientific societies and cultural and professional associations. The AIPH adopted temporary bylaws and a temporary steering committee was designed. AIPH intends to promote the profession of Public historian in Italy like IFPH does promote Public History in the world as a global discipline.[1]

The 1st IFPH conference was organized along with the local Master of Public History at the University of Amsterdam in October 2014,[2] the year after “conference zero”, held in Ottawa in April 2013, still within the annual conference of the American National Council for Public History (NCPH), [3] but already with the IFPH logo. The 2nd international public history conference was held in Jinan, China, inside the 22nd International Conference of the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS-CISH): the IFPH is an internal commission of the ICHS. In China, the IFPH organized a Round Table on Why Public History? And, at the same time, presented three panels devoted respectively to the Teaching of Public History, Digital Public History and Museums and Public History.

Public History has evolved socially in different ways and according to different models around the world. In Brazil for example, the Rede Brasileira de História Pública organized its 3rd public history conference in 2015 and will host the 5th IFPH-FIHP annual conference in Sao Paulo during the summer of 2018. Colombia hosted the 3rd IFPH conference in Bogotá, and Colombians have established their own path to Public History stimulated by transitional justice issues dealing with the conflict with the FARC guerrillas; whereas the Chinese are attentive to urban and architectural memories and to their pasts in a rapidly evolving country;[4] the Russians, in 2016, questioned what, in their past, should be remembered and could characterize their present identity.[5] This global public history phenomenon is now structuring the discipline and providing answers to different national needs all over the world, as the contributions from the five continents at the 4th IFPH conference in Ravenna (#IFPH2017) demonstrate.

The first conference of the Italian Public History Association in Ravenna will bring together Public historians from all regions of the Italian Peninsula who will discuss the reasons for a national route to the discipline. Awareness of the importance of Public History practices in Italy became widespread only a few years ago. Italy felt the need to enhance a reflection and a dialogue among scholars and practitioners in order to define the scientific status of public historians. The Ravenna conference hopes to support this process by comparing different experiences and disciplinary approaches and to inquire about the state of the discipline at national and international levels.

We look forward to a large, diverse, enthusiastic and passionate presence of people in over 95 panels and during the presentation of Italian and international posters on Thursday, June 8 from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm, during Michael Frisch’s AIPH keynote on The concept of Shared Authority in Public history today (Wednesday 7 June at 6 pm) and during Paweł Machcewicz IFPH keynote on The Museum of the Second World War in Poland: Intersections of History, Memory and Politics (Thursday, June 8 at 6.30 pm), as well as in the context of the numerous cultural initiatives that will be held in town throughout the week.

Welcome to Ravenna to celebrate Public History!

  • Andrea Giardina (President of the Giunta Centrale per gli Studi Storici, Rome)
  • Serge Noiret (IFPH-FIHP President)
  • Luigi Tomassini (Head of the Cultural Heritage Department, University of Bologna, Ravenna Campus)

[1] Serge Noiret, Premessa: per una Federazione Internazionale di Public History, in «Memoria e Ricerca», n. 2/2011, pp. 5-7; Id, Next Steps for the International Federation, in «Public History News», vol. 32, n. 4/2012, p. 1, and Id, Un Centro per la Public History, in «Historia Magistra», n. 10/4, 2012, pp.162-167.

[2] IFPH-FIHP: Public History in a Digital World: The Revolution Reconsidered., 23-25 ottobre 2014.

[3] NCPH: Knowing your Public(s). The Significance of Audiences in Public History, Ottawa, 17-20 April 2013

[4] Na Li, Public History in China: Is it Possible?, in «Public History Review», Vol. 21, 2014, pp. 20-40.

[5] International Сonference: The past is a foreign country? Public history in Russia, June 3-4, 2016, Moscow.


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