Public History: Brazil Goes International!

Author: Anita Lucchesi, PhD candidate University of Luxembourg,
Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) 

The next International Federation for Public History (IFPH) conference will be in Brazil, co-organized in collaboration with the Brazilian Network for Public History (RBHP), and will take place in São Paulo, from August 21st to 24th, 2018. The Call for Papers for the IFPH is already closed, but RBHP’s is still open until tomorrow, April 15th for Portuguese and Spanish presentations, check it out.

This annual meeting marks the 5th anniversary of the IFPH – which first met in Ottawa, in 2013 – and the 4th International Symposium organised by RBHP after their first gathering in São Paulo, in 2011.

This year, IFPH CFP resulted in 54 individual papers and 15 panel submissions, gathering 92 authors, from 26 countries around the world. Of course we could always wish that the numbers were greater, but I am already really happy to say we got representatives from all continents, and that women were not underrepresented. On the contrary, we got 50 women and 42 men applying.

We should not look at the grey countries on the map and assume there aren’t any public history projects going on there, rather we should try to figure out how to get closer to them, how to discover their activities, and maybe even go there (please share your ideas in the comment section). We know that for many reasons, researchers and practitioners from all over the world are subject to very different conditions when doing their work, and it is true that some of them simply cannot travel to international conferences due to funding restrictions. We actually heard from many people through IFPH channels (Twitter and Facebook) that they could not join #IFPH2018 for that very reason, as well as calendar clashes and other personal reasons. These are other reasons why we have to relativize the response to this conference CFP. Despite the fact that South America is not the easiest destination for most in the North hemisphere, this preliminary submissions overview gives us some valuable data: internationalisation is happening! Personally, I can clearly see the IFPH’s belief in branching to different continents, establishing partnerships, and expanding our networks. All these efforts are important steps in making this map more and more representative of the International PH community. Hopefully, in the next five years, the IFPH will be able to reach more people in Africa and Central Asia, for instance. Let’s see; all ideas are welcome!

For now, the IFPH Program Committee for #IFPH2018 is closing the evaluations, but according to the cloud below, generated with the keywords proposed for individual papers, we can have a general idea of what is coming up in São Paulo:

This next conference for me, particularly, is really exciting. Not only because it implies flying back from Luxembourg to Brazil, but for the symbolic meaning it has for public history in Brazil. On the one hand, an obvious “win-win” situation here is that in making it a joint venture, the IFPH and RBHP are enhancing the internationalisation of the PH-related debates going on in Brazil. Not to mention, it is promoting an opportunity for many Brazilians – often prevented from travelling abroad due to budget restrictions – to join a wide international conversation. On the other hand, the recent politics effervescent in the country marks a moment of even stronger need for public history debate in Brazil. It is very significant that participants from all over the world are able to meet and talk to historians engaged with public history in all its different facets in Brazil. I keep coming back to one question that got to me in the last panel in Bogotá, for IFPH2016, and I still believe it should be one of the highest on the public history agenda:

Photo by Anita Lucchesi, Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, 09th June 2016.

For that I am glad our Brazilian colleagues open their CFP with two hot topics:

  1. História pública e usos do passado: questões teórico e metodológicas (Public history and uses of the past: methodological and theoretical issues)
  2. Democracia, direitos e o papel público do historiador (Democracy, rights and the public role of the historian)

I am really curious to hear the debates, the exchanges, and learn more about what you and my Brazilian fellows are working on. I hope to see many of you there.

São Paulo, here we go!


-Anita Lucchesi is a half Brazilian, half Italian historian. Currently, she is a PhD Candidate at the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, with a project on migrant memories and narratives in the Grand Duchy, using digital public history methods to gather and analyse the historical sources, as well as to engage the interested community in the project. Anita is also a member of the administration board of the Centre de Documentation sur les Migrations Humaines, member of the outreach committee of the Rede Brasileira de História Pública and treasurer of the International Federation for Public History.


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